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!