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.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Harvest 2015 Has Started!

It's here! This Saturday we picked our rows of Charles Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, kicking off vintage 2015 for Foursight Wines. It was also baby Evan's first harvest day; he had a sample of some grapes as they arrived at the crushpad (although he likes it a little sweeter)!




My previous post talks about some of the challenges with this particular vintage, but the one we're feeling particularly is the lack of fruit in most of the North Coast. We believe our estate is more than 50% down in tonnage for our Sauvignon Blanc, and 30-40% off in Pinot Noir. Gray, gloomy weather during the spring caused a bad set. Clusters are small, berries are small, and there's not much of them.

Unfortunately for us, that means less production for this vintage. We won't feel it until we release the wines in a few years, but knowing this will make us address the 2016 vintage differently (like producing additional quicker-to-release wines like our Vin Gris perhaps). We also won't be able to use our new tank, purchased for the express purpose of producing more Sauvignon Blanc this year as it keeps selling out too quickly! Murphy's law, right?

The Pinot starts coming in next Friday, after several days of bottling the 2014 Pinot Noirs. Given the small crop, we're planning to focus on our mainstays (Zero New Oak, Charles Vineyard, and Clone 05 Pommard Pinots) and, with the warmer year, perhaps some Paraboll. Wish us all luck!