Sunday, September 25, 2016

Harvest 2016 Comes to an End

This weekend we pressed the last lots of Pinot Noir off the skins and put them into barrel. In other words, we're done!!! As it has been the past few years, harvest came fast and furious with one estate, and we are done with time to spare in September, which is a bit unusual for us.

All in all, we're very happy with 2016. Quality looks to be great, and quantity was surprisingly good. I wrote earlier about the smaller cluster sizes and our expectation that the crop would be down for the Pinot Noir. As we neared harvest, we did more counts and weights, and, although some blocks were slightly down, some picked out slightly heavier than expected. Looking back, we seem to be pretty close to our long-term average on tonnage -- a fact we're happy about after a few down years.

The Sauvignon Blanc was our big winner this year, finally cropping a decent amount and filling several tanks in the winery (in 2015 it was down more than 50% due to inclement spring weather). We hope we'll finally be able to meet demand for this bottling when we release it next year.

Harvest was more challenging this year in some ways -- I spent more time playing mommy to our toddler and less time helping at the winery. This leaves Joe with more work on his own, but as luck would have it, we were connected with an amazing intern who was able to help us get everything done.

The winery was scrubbed, organized, and sanitized before any grapes came in, and then we started the process of picking, sorting, destemming or adding whole clusters to the fermentation bins (or pressing the whites off the skins), punchdowns, pressing the Pinots off the skins, and barreling down.

Evan, our son, LOVED harvest. The trucks, the tractors, the forklifts, the people, and most important, the grapes! They were all exciting, loud, and/or delicious. He took it upon himself to sample most of the bins that came in, just to make sure everything was "yummy."

Here are a few images from harvest 2016 at Foursight Wines:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Our First Pick Dates Are Scheduled! Harvest 2016

Last week we started eyeing the vineyard suspiciously. With a few recent heat spikes and a smaller-than-average crop, ripening was moving along very quickly. And as I wrote in this blog just one week ago that we expected harvest in early September, we took our first berry samples for the year, testing acidity and sugar and tasting for flavor.

The verdict? We start harvesting estate grapes next week! A quick turnabout, but every vintage is unique, and I always tell our customers that a lot can happen in a vineyard in a very short amount of time! This year proves that.

In many of the blocks this year, clusters are tiny (see photo below, where the cluster is only as long as my fingers). Pinot Noir is known for small clusters, but this year they're very small, meaning less crop for the vine to ripen and a faster ripening pace. Once the vines started to get some summer heat, then off they went! Sugars are accumulating quickly and we should have all the grapes in the winery by the beginning of September.

Here we go!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

August Update

With bottling behind us, harvest looms. Our winemaker spent his days off this week turning the cellar from a bottling space (with all the supplies and equipment involved filling the cellar) into a harvest and crush space.

Our fermentation bins now fill the back, and all the punchdown tools, containers, carboys, and miscellany are out of storage until late fall, when they are scrubbed, ozoned, and returned to their respective homes.

We're not quite ready for September's incoming grapes. All these supplies must be cleaned (same process as above) and the sorting table and basket press prepped (and cleaned), but we're getting closer.
Evan on the crushpad for the Sauvignon Blanc pick, 2015

This is one of the few times during the year that our barrels are stacked in the cellar. One of the ways we are able to achieve cleaner, unfiltered wines, is that we single-stack our barrels once they're filled, then try and leave them alone. If you shake up your unfiltered apple juice, what happens? It gets cloudy, right? Same principle applies with the lees (sediment) in the bottom of the barrels. We embrace some sediment, but there is a limit, so we try not to disturb the wines during the aging process, until we rack (remove some of the sediment) and blend to prepare for bottling later in the year.

One thing I'm particularly looking forward to this year is harvest with our toddler, Evan. It sounds a little crazy, because it will be given how active and curious he is, but he's beginning to understand broader concepts and can talk about what he sees now. During crush 2015 he was just 6-7 months old and trying to stuff grapes in his mouth. This year he'll be able to ride the forklift with dad and taste green versus red grapes, and generally enjoy the craziness and equipment involved with this exciting time of the year.

Plus, in 20 years he'll be able to say this is the first vintage he was truly able to help. Given how few zucchinis make it to maturity in our garden, he can at least pick a few grapes for the cause!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bottling the 2015's and a Harvest Update

As I type, we have already bottled our Foursight 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon from the estate, and in a few days our 2015 Pinot Noirs go into bottle, then off to the warehouse for a long rest before we release them to our wine club (and an even longer rest before we release them to our tasting room).

We are feeling a bit lucky this year to have a more "normal" season -- harvest in September, not coinciding with a late-August bottling as it did last year. (Full disclosure, we also moved bottling a few weeks earlier this year, just in case!)

Our grapes are still in veraison (turning from green to purple), and we expect about a month of breathing room in between seeing off last year's wines and bringing in the first grapes of this year's harvest.

Our main worry this year, and there's always one with Mother Nature in charge, is the quantity of the crop yet again. Some of the blocks look down yet again (2015 was approx. 50% of normal). We have yet to do official cluster counts (where we actually count and weigh clusters on a number of vines, then use those calculations to form an estimated crop size), but that will give us a much more accurate look at the 2016 harvest.

As always, here's hoping for a great 2016 harvest!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tasting Videos Now Online

New tasting note videos have been posted on our You Tube channel! Check it out for descriptions of all our current releases -- winemaking methods, flavor components and food pairings -- by Foursight Winemaker Joe Webb:

Friday, July 8, 2016

Life Before Harvest

In the Pinot business, July marks a slow slide toward harvest, usually beginning with bottling the prior year's wines.

Next week we begin to put our estate Pinot Noirs from the 2015 vintage into bottle. This is slightly earlier than our average bottling date because harvest has also been early the past two vintages. Just to hedge our bets, we moved bottling (because the general idea is to bottle BEFORE harvest so you have room in the cellar and empty barrels)!

Although winemakers typically despise bottling (so many logistics and something always goes awry), I love it. Seeing last year's wine make it safely into bottle and one step closer to being in the hands of our customers gives me a thrill that I often don't have the time, or sometimes brainpower, to appreciate during the busier moments of harvest and crush.
Caught in action! Working the bottling line during Semillon bottling.

July is also our last month to celebrate summer before we get really busy multi-tasking between the cellar, vineyard and tasting room. On July 23-24 we'll be hosting our fourth annual Anderson Valley Barrel Tasting Weekend with 21 wineries from Anderson Valley and the Yorkville Highlands appellation participating. It's a really fun (and reasonably priced) event -- $20 for two days of tasting and a glass. Check it out here.

We also have our first Wine Bar Night on July 15th at our Boonville tasting room. We'll be serving Pork Crostini with Onion Jam and Savory Mushroom Rolls to pair with our wines from Noon to 7 p.m. Tasting $5 and glasses and bottles available to purchase for the patio!
Our fifth generation and grandpa, having a tractor lesson!

We expect harvest to be in September this year -- more typical for our site, and will announce our harvest activities as we get closer.

Monday, February 8, 2016

El Nino Winter in Anderson Valley

Although we've been busy traveling on sales trips, rehabbing the tasting room for the New Year, and generally dealing with a business and a one-year-old, this is theoretically the quiet time at Foursight winery and Charles Vineyard. (I admit I'm beginning to think "slow time" or "quiet time" is a big joke!) Regardless, the vines are mostly pre-pruned, we just reopened in the tasting room after a three-week winter break (where we got snowed in on the East Coast by Jonas), and the wines are resting in barrel, with no imminently planned activity except topping.

New-release 2013 Pinot Noirs at our Boonville tasting room

This is our first El Nino winter in years, and, to be honest, we didn't start to feel like it until the new year. Our rain year, which starts October 1, was almost identical to 2015 -- a drought year -- until the beginning of January. The last few years we had what skiers called "June-uary," which were sunny, warm and more Margarita weather than skiing weather. January 2016 was decidedly not.

It was wet enough last month that we were starting to get a little weary of our soggy, muddy state of living. And then, in true Mother Nature fashion, it changed. This weekend has been sunny and warm and gorgeous, which is a wonderful break as long as it starts raining again at some point! Our rain total for the water year is more than 26" right now via our weather station (a hand count of our manual rain gauges usually shows a little more).
Evan and his cupcake

Today our capsules for 2016 summer bottling were delivered, which was a little reminder of the year, looking forward. We've had a busy tasting room, and we're starting to really plan our spring events. By April we won't take a breath until post-harvest, except to close one weekend in June when the enormous music festival comes to town.

We enjoyed our San Francisco Super Bowl 50 refugees this past weekend, and celebrated baby Evan's first birthday, so I guess he's toddler Evan now -- walking, talking and who-knows-what-else soon!

Until the next time!