Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Harvest Update

Two picks under our belt now, and one more to go! Today and tomorrow we're bottling the last of the 2013 Pinots, with much help from family and friends (THANK YOU). These will travel to our warehouse on Friday, clearing out much-needed space in our cellar for the final blocks of Pinot also coming in on Friday.

Gary, Tom, Scott, DeWayne, Joe, Nancy & Kristy, bottling.

So far we harvested our 115 and 777 clones of Pinot, plus our Sauvignon Blanc. Next to come in will be the 114 and Pommard clones, with the Semillon, per usual, dead last. (It's not that it's a slacker, per se, but that it just takes its sweet time trying to ripen in a slightly too-cold climate; we're lucky most years to get to 20-21 Brix, but we adore the resulting wine!)

Sauvignon Blanc in the basket press.

The grapes are looking great. Sugars are coming in just like we like them (22.5-23.5 for most of our Pinots, resulting in a nice, balanced 13.5-14% alcohol). Acids are great this year. The only issue that we've seen is some sunburn in a few blocks, making raisins out of part of the clusters. We deal with this by sorting in the field, then again at the winery. By hand. Very tediously.

We've ramped the whole clusters up to approx. 40% on most of our lots this vintage, which will add to the structure, flavor and general interest of the resulting wines. Right now wild yeasts are at work on our first fermentors of Pinot -- a process that takes us about three weeks, employing hand punchdowns 1-3 times per day all the way through.

The best part? Because we're 100% estate, it's fast and furious for now, but we'll be done in the vineyard very soon. Then we can focus only on winemaking for the rest of the fall, wrapping everything up well before harvest.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Here Comes Harvest 2014!

For the first time ever at Foursight and Charles Vineyard, we'll be picking our first blocks in August! We just called our first two pick dates for this weekend and early next week. The good news is that quality looks great. The bad news is that we now have to turn around from bottling our 2013 Pinot Noirs and harvest and crush the very next day.

Winemaker Joe preps the equipment for another harvest

Why is this year early? A very mild spring and dry conditions caused early budbreak, followed by a warm June & July. August has cooled, but the vines already had a head-start, bringing ripeness earlier than average by at least several weeks. Luckily, we had plenty of water to keep the vines well hydrated through the season (due to those last few spring storms), but they're showing all the indicators that they're ready or will be soon!

We pick earlier than most anyway, with the majority of our portfolio coming in between 13.5-14% natural alcohol (no watering back to a desired sugar level for a target alcohol). These first blocks will come in at approx. 23 brix. Natural acidities look absolutely fantastic this year, which is a relief as regions picking earlier this month reported the opposite. Seeds are brown, and stems aren't sappy (the status of the stems is important as we always include 10-35% whole clusters in our fermentations).

The shocker again this year: a lower crop level on the Sauvignon Blanc has ensured it will come in early this year, alongside the Pinot Noirs. The only other year that we saw this happen was last year, another warm year. We typically have at least a few weeks in between the Pinot Noirs and the Bordeaux whites, which simply need a little more heat and hangtime to ripen here. This gives us a moment to clean up all the Pinot winemaking equipment and move into whites mode. But, if one thing is ever true about harvest, it's that it's never predictable!

So, wish us luck! We look forward to sharing this experience with all our Harvest Experience attendees on September 13. Here we go!