August Updates

Dodon Welcomes Seth McCombs  Polly and I are very pleased to introduce Seth McCombs as Dodon’s new Assistant Winemaker. Seth comes to Dodon with 15 years of vineyard and winery experience in Virginia and North Carolina. Born and raised in Lynchburg, Seth started in 2002 in the laboratory at Chateau Morisette where he quickly developed his passion for wine and, like most of us in the industry, learned many parts of the wine business outside his job description. In 2006, he moved to Raffaldini Vineyard and Winery, where he served as Assistant Winemaker, and then in 2011, he became Winemaker at AmRhein Wine Cellars, where he was responsible for a 30-acre vineyard as well as cellar operations. While at Raffaldini, Seth studied Enology and Viticulture at Surry Community College. He was most recently Winegrower at Capstone Vineyards in Linden, Virginia. 

 Dodon's new assistant winemaker Seth McCombs (left), Tom (middle), and BJ (right), harvest intern, prepare for bottling. 

Dodon's new assistant winemaker Seth McCombs (left), Tom (middle), and BJ (right), harvest intern, prepare for bottling. 

All of us on the Dodon team are thrilled that Seth and his family – Stephanie, Arlo, and Maggie - have been able to join us mid-season for the 2017 harvest, and we hope many more. You will quickly recognize them for their outgoing, easy-going spirits and the fastest smiles in the Mid-Atlantic.

We will, of course, miss former vineyard manager Nick Maliska, who has taken a cellar position at Pritchard Hill’s Ovid  in Napa Valley. Nick was with us during a period of rapid evolution and growth.  We wish Nick, Lizzie, Sophie, and Loie all the best in the next phase of their wine journey.

Brief Vintage Update  The bird nets are all up, so our attention is quickly turning to preparing to bottle 800 cases of wine this Friday, August 18. I’m excited about all the wines, especially the 2015 Oronoco and Dungannon. We’re also getting ready for the harvest. The season has been shaping up nicely. Veraison came early, July 20 in Block 40 (Merlot), and went quickly, with superb uniformity across all the blocks. This means that the fruit will ripen evenly and allow us to fully extract all the flavors, always an exciting prospect for a winemaker. The modest rains have kept the wines in peak condition, allowing photosynthesis to work its magic, as have the cooler temperatures with lots of clear sunshine. 

The yields look excellent, just where we expected them. As usual, the Sauvignon is likely to be the first pick, probably the end of August, followed a week or so later by the Chardonnay.  I’m looking forward to having new clones of each of these varieties come into production this year, especially the musqué clones that will add significantly to the aromatic character of the wines. Steve Blais, our consulting winemaker, and Lucie Morton, our viticulturist, are planning to visit the third week in September, just in time for the first Merlot pick. 

So far, so good. Mother Nature has been smiling. We're excited by the vintage.