|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!