Friday, September 30, 2011

Here Comes the Rain!

Rain is always a threat in late harvest years. We always cross our fingers and hope it holds off until all the grapes are picked, but in farming the only certainty is that there can be no certainty with Mother Nature. And, of course, it now looks like we may get 1-2" of rain starting on Monday.

Lucky for us, our last pick for Foursight is Sunday!

Gary Bates, a family friend, and some Pinot destined for Foursight's first dry rose'

OUR FINAL PICK
We'll be bringing in three tons of Sauvignon Blanc on Sunday morning, just ahead of the bad weather. My parents will still have some SB hanging for another winery, but that's due to a number of factors. They very smartly pulled some leaves on our rows, exposing the fruit to more sunlight and ripening the fruit more rapidly. This can be risky in years like last year, where many farmers pulled leaves and then we had a heat wave, causing sunburn and lots of raisined fruit. However, if you play it right, it can make the difference between being able to get the fruit off the vine ahead of the rain, or having to hang it through the rain.

Now, where rain's concerned, anything above an inch is worrisome. Mold increases, and if the rain doesn't let up, the grapes can simply turn to mush on the vines (more or less). Because of this chance, grape growers have been picking frantically all week. It's been hard to get a crew and even harder to get a truck to take the fruit to the winery. The local crews have been picking night and day (literally) -- we've heard our neighbors picking all night for the past four nights so they can ship the fruit to Napa first thing in the morning.

ANDERSON VALLEY FRUIT
Here in Anderson Valley, virtually all the Pinot Noir is now off the vines, meaning that this should be a good harvest for Pinot Noir for the appellation. We'll see how the later-ripening whites and any bigger reds fare (very little planted in the big red department due to our cold climate). And, as for late-harvest wines, I wouldn't expect to see much (unless we end up getting just the perfect amount of rain to encourage some nice, botrytized wines).

As always, it's never dull!

THE FOURSIGHT WINERY
In the winery, our fermentations are going like crazy. The native yeast has kicked off and we have to air out the winery first thing in the morning: the CO2 is so thick we can't work back there until we've replaced the air with the winery fan. We're on to two punch downs (and soon three) per day, and things are looking good and smell fantastic. The one thing I love the most about our tasting room being on the other side of the wall from the winery is that the tasting room smells like fermenting wine all day!

Our first-ever Pinot Noir rose' is almost done with fermentation. Super exciting, and we can't wait to try it as a finished wine. We're not giving it any oak aging, nor are we allowing it to go through malolactic fermentation. Our reasoning for this? We want it to be dry and crisp, with the kind of bright acidity that makes it refreshing and food friendly. We hope to release it in time for next summer's hot days. It's going to be our go-to picnic and patio wine.

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