As of this week, it's official: harvest 2013 is over at Foursight Wines. The last two weeks found us pressing off fermented Pinot Noir, barreling it all down, and reorganizing and cleaning the cellar. Equipment was put away, and we're now 98% buttoned up for the winter!
It was an early harvest, with our first block of Pinot Noir coming off the vine on September 5. The next 10 days were a brutal exercise in endurance and sleeplessness, with 99% of the grapes harvested with in that period. Even our Sauvignon Blanc, which was hit hard this spring with frost, then rain during bloom (thus reducing the crop) came in alongside the Pinot Noirs because of the reduced cropload.
We night picked, day picked, poured at Winesong! on the Mendocino Coast, poured in the tasting room, and planned our annual Fall Harvest Experience party. The last block to come off at Charles Vineyard was our estate Semillon, on September 19 -- right before the first sprinkles of the season.
Quality looks great overall. Mid-summer we were nervous about physiological ripeness (brown seeds and stems, etc.) catching up with rapidly increasing sugar levels due to the heat, but the cool August allowed the vines to get there before we picked. In fact, we had some of the most mature seeds and stems that we've seen in a while on most blocks. The vines knew it was an early season, and they were ready. We had just enough water to keep everything hydrated, and we're very happy with what came off the vine. Flavors are phenomenal this year, albeit with softer acids some past years.
We increased our production slightly this year, and have produced two new wines: an unoaked Pinot Noir, and a "Paraboll" Pinot Noir. The unoaked Pinot Noir was inspired by tasting our topping lots with customers, out of stainless kegs and carboys. So, we're producing a Pinot Noir that won't see any barrel influence. It will be fresh and fruity and easy to drink (and we'll be able to sell it for a great price because of the lack of $1000-a-pop barrels). The integrity of the fruit that comes off our Charles Vineyard shines through no matter the treatment, so we're certain that this will be an incredible wine.
We also produced a "Paraboll" Pinot Noir this year. To give the short version, our winemaker, Joe Webb, also worked with Londer Vineyards here in Anderson Valley. When the owners retired this year and closed the business, we made an agreement to continue to produce just one Pinot Noir -- the Paraboll blend. We are producing our take on Paraboll this vintage, with a specific blend of clones, different picking procedures, and a separate barrel program from our other Pinot Noirs. We're all very excited to see how it turns out!
One thing I'm the most proud of, personally, is that we all worked together (namely myself and my winemaker husband) without killing each other! We produced more wine than we have in several years, all in-house. This means that everything, including the whites, is 100% wild yeast, wild ML, and will be bottled unfined and unfiltered. That's rare anywhere in the world of modern winemaking.
Now we're looking at our first, full days off since bottling on August 27. I have the bubbles ready!