The 2018 vintage, vineyard news

Mark loading 2018 Carmel Valley/Not Carmel Valley Pinot Noir into the destemmer.

The 2018 vintage is looking good, with good yields on all but the Santa Cruz Sauvignon Blanc vineyard.  It was a cool, moderate summer, with none of the hot spells that usually occur.  That is good, but meant for a later than normal harvest, as we had to wait for the high acids in the fruit to go down. As grapes mature, color, pH and flavor generally go up, and acids go down. So as a rule our 2018s had either high acid or high sugar, which ferments into higher alcohol. The 2018 whites are high acid, low alcohol, the reds high alcohol. Every year is a challenge in one way or another.  We have it good in California.  This year was an unmitigated disaster for the Mid-Atlantic, with a cloudy wet summer capped off by hurricane- induced deluges right at harvest time.  I made wine for two years in Virginia, and I feel their pain.

New for us this year is Pinot Noir from Carmel Valley, which oddly is not Carmel Valley (when they created the AVA most of the vineyards were actually in the neighboring valley, Cachagua).  More oddly, it was the last fruit we harvested.  Pinot is usually the first red to come in.  We are making our first Zinfandel ever (I made it for many vintages as a hired gun), and Syrah, Cab Sauv and Cab Franc from Highlands Vineyard, in the mountains between Carmel Valley and Arroyo Seco. These are all through fermentation and they are big, ripe wines- outside our normal milieu. Let’s see how we do.  Our estate organic Syrah was a little tamer, but still ripe.  As with 2017, the lower three rows, late to ripen, were harvested later and fermented after carbonic maceration, to reduce the acidity.  It adds a fruity bubble gum aroma, think Beaujolais Nouveau, which is made that way.  If I can find time to bottle, the 2017 Carbonic Syrah is ready to drink.  Maybe it will be bottled in time for Thanksgiving!

Carmel Valley Pinot 2018

The Artist Behind Our Wine: Mary Hart

Visitors to the Bunter Spring Winery tasting room often tell us how beautiful our tulip label is and ask why we chose it for our wine.  We usually top up their glass and tell them about our springtime wedding and the thousands of tulips planted the winter before our ceremony by Margaret’s brother Justin and their friends – perfectly timed for our wedding day.

Field of tulips at our 2007 wedding

Field of tulips at our 2007 wedding

These tulips first inspired a set of fanciful red and white labels (below) for our wedding wine – designed by Margaret’s college friend, Mary Hart.

The following year, when we decided to launch Bunter Spring Winery, it seemed entirely natural to to use Mary’s beautiful painting on our wine.

M&M Wedding JB B&W 241 (1)


Mary Hart is an accomplished artist who lives in Portland, Maine, and is currently a visiting professor of art at Bowdoin College.  Mary’s bio 

We love Mary’s work not only because she is our friend, but also because of her deep and enduring connection with the natural world. 

Her philosophy and attention to detail closely reflects our approach to winemaking: creating wines that are the simplest expression of nature and place.  We hope you will take the time to visit her website to see her work and, better yet, visit a gallery where you can see it in person.  Mary’s portfolio

Among other locations, Mary’s artwork has been exhibited at Aucocisco Gallery in Portland, ME, the Portland Museum of Art, The Trustman Gallery at Simmons College in Boston, MA, and the Dunedin Fine Arts Center in Dunedin, FL. She has received grants to support her work from the Artist Resource Trust and the Maine Arts Commission, and artist residencies at Yaddo, SMCC, and La Dogana in Italy.


Since launching the winery, we have used different colors for each of our grape varieties and wines:  Red for our Bordeaux-style blends and Cabernets; Yellow for our Chardonnays; White for our Sauvignon Blancs; Orange for our Pinot Noirs; and purple for our Primitivos.  We like the “bouquet” effect as it reminds of the day those tulips came up back in 2007!