Ten Spoon Winery

Albert, Ten Spoon Vineyard dog, cruises by the vines, which are snug below a deep blanket of snow. Come ski the vineyard. Smooth. It promises to be a luxuriantsummer.

By ANDY SPONSELLER AND CONNIE POTEN

Necessity is the mother of innovation, and for us, it was all about a very tough year in 2010 for grapes throughout the West.   Many vineyards experienced crop failure due to unseasonable frosts and a cold, clammy summer.   Even here, our harvest was only 7.5 tons—less than half of what we produce in a good year.   The harvest was small, quality high.

Short crops mean more diversity.  New wines will be coming from intrepid wine-maker Andy Sponseller.  For the first time, he’ll be making a Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendocino County’s Barra Vineyard.  We brought in almost 20 tons of grapes, which will amount to about 3,100 gallons, and that translates into about 1,300 cases of wine.  Charley Barra, at 85 the grandfather of organic grape-growing in the U.S., also provided us with beautiful Syrah grapes.  In the tank, this wine is mellowing to perfection, as anyone who’s stopped by and tasted it right from the tank can tell you, and will become our future Prairie Thunder.

Chardonnay is coming too–a small amount from Columbia river grapes from Oak Ridge Vineyard, 1,300 feet above sea level on the south side of Mount Baker–that will be for sale in the winery only.  A trace of untoasted American oak deepens the flavor.  The total acidity is 6.3 grams and .01 residual sugar—essentially bone dry, but the citrus and floral flavors please the palate, followed by a deep, crisp finish.

We also discovered that Rainier cherries from our friends Lise Rousseau and Al Silva at Fat Robin Orchard on Finley Point, in Flathead Lake, make a delicate cherry wine with a slight golden orange color, reflecting the red and yellow pigments in Rainier cherry skins.  The flavor is the classic taste of Rainier cherries that people love so much.

Andy makes dry cherry wines, and this is a prime example of what a fine dinner wine cherry wine can be without being cloying or over-sweet.  It’s been aging for almost three years and will be available in the winery tasting room.

And of course a smaller but exceptional year for the lambert cherries means great Flathead Cherry Dry again.  The weather meant we only got 6 tons of cherries, our usual is 10 to 12 tons.  So horde your Flathead Cherry Dry.

We’re producing our diverse line of wines as well, aging nicely in the tanks and bottle now.

Ten Spoon’s Tasting Room

Megan Dochnahl runs the tasting room like a small, glamorous, candlelit nightclub tucked in between ceiling-high stacks of cases of wine.  Music by Missoula’s best happens on Fridays, and sometimes Saturdays, like the day before Valentine’s, featuring George Carlton.   Lots of Saturdays, through April, we offer nonprofit night for the many organizations that call Missoula home.  Open year round, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, the Ten Spoon tasting room offers flights and wine by the glass.  Currently, Tagliare provides incredible antipasto plates to enjoy with our wine.

"The lab requires a lot of concentration and decision-making about details such as balance, acid and residual sugar," says Andy. "Wrangling with the hoses, pumps and the tank is likerecess."

Check our Facebook page for upcoming events, and call Megan if you’d like to perform or schedule a nonprofit night.  In the summer months, starting in May, nonprofit nights will be either Wednesdays or Sundays.  And listen for our ad on The Trail, 103.3 fm.  It’s funny.

When he’s not working in the lab, Andy camps it up with tank transfers and cleaning—

Nici Holt, the graphic artist behind our labels, has two baby girls and a new business making children’s clothes, as well as her popular and engaging blog, digthischickmt.com., so she’s passed the torch to Yogesh Simpson, a graphic artist living in Bozeman.  Yes, Yogesh’s parents are spiritual seekers who lived on an ashram when he was born.  We’re always seeking something, and look forward to working with someone who has a lead.  The first new label will be for the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale!  Yes, Miles City has asked us to make a wine and label to promote the historic town and event and we are excited and honored to do it.

All for now ~ we’ll update you on the latest adventures at Ten Spoon in the spring.  Happy skiing!