Monday, February 8, 2016

El Nino Winter in Anderson Valley

Although we've been busy traveling on sales trips, rehabbing the tasting room for the New Year, and generally dealing with a business and a one-year-old, this is theoretically the quiet time at Foursight winery and Charles Vineyard. (I admit I'm beginning to think "slow time" or "quiet time" is a big joke!) Regardless, the vines are mostly pre-pruned, we just reopened in the tasting room after a three-week winter break (where we got snowed in on the East Coast by Jonas), and the wines are resting in barrel, with no imminently planned activity except topping.

New-release 2013 Pinot Noirs at our Boonville tasting room

This is our first El Nino winter in years, and, to be honest, we didn't start to feel like it until the new year. Our rain year, which starts October 1, was almost identical to 2015 -- a drought year -- until the beginning of January. The last few years we had what skiers called "June-uary," which were sunny, warm and more Margarita weather than skiing weather. January 2016 was decidedly not.

It was wet enough last month that we were starting to get a little weary of our soggy, muddy state of living. And then, in true Mother Nature fashion, it changed. This weekend has been sunny and warm and gorgeous, which is a wonderful break as long as it starts raining again at some point! Our rain total for the water year is more than 26" right now via our weather station (a hand count of our manual rain gauges usually shows a little more).
Evan and his cupcake

Today our capsules for 2016 summer bottling were delivered, which was a little reminder of the year, looking forward. We've had a busy tasting room, and we're starting to really plan our spring events. By April we won't take a breath until post-harvest, except to close one weekend in June when the enormous music festival comes to town.

We enjoyed our San Francisco Super Bowl 50 refugees this past weekend, and celebrated baby Evan's first birthday, so I guess he's toddler Evan now -- walking, talking and who-knows-what-else soon!

Until the next time!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Harvest 2015: The End Draws Near

As we heard a slight drizzle on the roof last night, we were thankful that harvest is almost over for us at Charles Vineyard. As it seems to happen when the season is very cold or very warm, everything came in all at once. We started with Sauvignon Blanc on August 15, and brought in the last of the Pinto Noir for ourselves this past week. All we have hanging on the vine is Semillon (which tends to handle a little water like a champion).

As I have addressed in my two previous posts, it was an unusual year where warm weather and a lack of fruit came together to create the earliest harvest in California to-date. Quality looks good, but there just isn't much of it.

This vintage was unique for us not only because of the early start (we moved bottling back a few weeks and still managed to bottle and pick in the same week), but also because it's the first vintage with baby Evan. I've had to take a little bit (or a lot) of a back seat for the long days, instead having my own long days with our six-month-old. In the best possible way, of course. His fascination with everything that goes on here (tractors, forklift, people, delicious grapes) imbues us with a new sense of wonder at the business we've chosen (it's sheer insanity for a small amount of the time). The middle-of-the-night wakings also add to the harvest fog we normally have, even though we realize that this time will pass very soon.

Our only disappointment with harvest comes with the lack of fruit. We purchased a new tank and chiller for the express purpose of making more Sauvignon Blanc from our estate. Unfortunately, this will have to wait for another vintage. Our Pinot Noirs will also be more limited than usual for vintage 2015.

Right now we have fermenting Pinot Noir in the back, getting several punchdowns (by hand of course!) per day. This will increase and then decrease again until it's time to press the new wine off the skins and put it into barrel. By October we will be done with this process and with the official crush season.