This is a first for me, so I’ve been sitting on the news for a day to ruminate on how to approach it.
Ehler’s Estate – the winery that made my epiphany wine – just announced they have a new winemaker. Such things happen, but it was a surprise nonetheless, as the previous winemaker Kevin Morrisey was very much the heart of the operation. No mention of him or why he left was given in the email.
Then, a friend and fellow member of Ehler’s pointed out to me that Kevin posted on LinkedIn that he’s looking for a new place.
And another friend mentioned they cancelled the Summer Dinner on her, and the yearly 1886 Dinner isn’t planned. Not to mention new staff at the tasting room.
A reply to my inquiry was very short, only mentioning Kevin left in June and they’re welcoming the new winemaker – all public information.
So we’re all left wondering, what’s up?
Admittedly, the past couple of vintages from Ehler’s have left me less than thrilled. The reds weren’t clicking for me like they used to. The rosé felt like it lost it’s uniqueness and came across as over-fruity yet flat. Had my taste changed?
Ehler’s has also repositioned their wines, dropping the much loved 120/80 label, and squeezing in a semi-reserve (the J. Leducq label) and a regular estate cabernet. The marketing blitz also claimed the historic 1886 bottle as a casualty, reducing that label to regular glass. Finally, the wines all earned a price hike across the board, though some with a more steeper percentage than others.
Taken as a whole – Ehler’s Estate had been losing it’s luster for me recently.
What To Do?
So, I’m left with this question – what to do? Given that it will take likely two vintages before the new winemaker can make her mark – making the wines from the estate in a style that best expresses her abilities – do I stay with Ehler’s?
I’m hoping that Kevin finds a home, I truly liked his ability and will be interested to see what he produces after getting settled in.
Given that the direction they are taking has amped up the marketing and therefore the customer base, I feel that Ehler’s has gone the route of quantity over quality. I understand change happens, but not all change is good.
I think it’s time to say goodbye to Ehler’s. They’ve made some changes that haven’t suited my taste. I think I’ve also changed with what I look for in wine.
This hasn’t been an easy decision. Ehler’s was my epiphany winery, one I thought I’d never part ways with. I wish them the best.