The Lightning Bolt

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09/14/2013   Volume 1, Issue 7

The Spring frost came relatively early this year…in mid-April. Damage was minimal to the mature vines, but we lost about 650 second-year Sangiovese vines. The third-year Nebbiolo was also hit, but aside from a greatly reduced crop load, the majority of the vines have survived – so we’ll try again next year!

The rest of the vineyard is looking better than it ever has. Keep your fingers crossed as we make our way through Monsoon Season.
We are particularly excited about our first harvest off the Aglianico (see the Meet The Grape section for more info on this grape) block. We have high hopes for the wines from these grapes.
A new block (just under an acre) of Cabernet was planted in June.
Harvest will be starting in mid-August. If you have an interest in helping with harvest, particularly if you are able to help out during the week, please contact us.The Monsoon rains have worked their magic and made the Sonoita area look like Greenland (well, the grass and hillsides are all green at least). If you haven’t been to the area in July or August, it’s pretty awesome….and a lot cooler than Phoenix and Tucson!

Winter Events

Many thanks to all of those who attended our Pre-Release tasting in March, and our annual barrel tasting in April. Both events were sold out. Thanks also to Suzanne at Viaggio Italiano for the fantastic food pairings she creates when catering these events.
Muscat nearing harvest
First Rattlesnake of the year, cooling off under a Montepulciano vine.

Meet the Grape


Aglianico in JulyPronounced “Ahl-YAH-nee-koe”, this ancient grape was cultivated by the Greeks, consumed by the Romans, and protected by Popes. The two best expressions of this grape in Italy come from Aglianico del Vulture (“Vull-TORE-ay” in Basilicata, and Taurasi in neighboring Campania. This hardy, sunshine-loving grape is medium-sized, with loose clusters, and ripens late. The best wines typically have a deep inky color, with firm tannins, complex structure, and flavors of black fruit, dark chocolate, leather and smoke. Rich flavors make for pairing with rich, flavorful meats like lamb. The wines can be a bit rough in their youth. But as they age, they take on subtle fruit flavors and earthy, chocolaty characteristics. Due to its elegance and capacity for long cellar-aging, Aglianico is often referred to as the “Barolo of the South” (in reference to the Nebbiolo-based wines from the Piemonte region of northern Italy). With a little cooperation from Mother Nature, we’ll get our first harvest off our vines in October this year.

Upcoming Events

  • Great AZ Grape Stomp 5K run/walk in Sonoita

    Saturday, October 12th

    Team Lightning Ridge is forming now. This is a great way to combine exercise and wine tasting! More details soon.
  • Lightning Ridge Cellars 4th Anniversary

    Saturday, Oct 26
    Activities to be determined!

  • Festival at the Farm

    Sunday, November 17 at The Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix
    Annual AZ Winegrowers Association event. Please for tickets and additional information.

Montepulciano vines, doing their thing!
Aglianico, in July
The Monsoon Rains arrived in June this year.

Current Releases

  • 2012 Muscat Canelli Estate

    Only 2 cases left!
  • 2012 Malvasia Estate


  • 2010 Montepulciano Estate


  • 2010 Barbera


  • 2008 Afterglow Dessert Wine


…an appropriate mode of wine tasting transportation for the Sonoita area!
Montepulciano vines, doing their thing!
Bird nest hiding in a Montepulciano vine.

New Plantings:

We recently planted one acre of Cabernet vines (see picture), mostly during the heat-wave at the end of June. They appear to be coming up quite nicely. Our intention is that the Cabernet grapes will be used for estate blends with our Petite Verdot, and possibly Sangiovese (depends on the whims of the winemaker and Mother Nature). We miss the Cabernet blends we made in 2007-2009, and would like to get back to those. So, with a few more years of letting those vines mature and to start producing grapes, we should be back in business!
We also planted a few hundred Aglianico vines to round out that 1.25 acre block.

Upcoming Releases

We have our 2010 Estate Cabernet and 2010 Estate Mourvedre which will be bottled in the next couple months, and released this Fall.
The very strong lineup of 2011 wines (Dolcetto, Zinfandel, Syrah, Montepulciano, and a couple blends) should be available beginning early next year, along with whites from the 2013 harvest.
We will also be bottling our first late-harvest Zinfandel dessert wine, which will be released late in the fall.

Another sunset over the Santa Ritas
Which cows are real?

Bruno’s Corner

Although a little older, and little greyer, Bruna remains a fixture (literally at times) in the tasting room. We’ve been giving her an occasional day off on the very hot weekends, but she generally is on duty, greeting our visitors, and leading tours. Thanks once again to all of you who have treated her so kindly.
When it’s really hot, Bruna gets her own pool in which to cool off!
For those of you who don’t enjoy the heat……here’s a little image to help cool you off.
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