The last week has been the type of week that makes winemakers go bald and lose sleep. It is also the reason that we do not like to declare a vintage’s quality until the grapes are in the cellar. In our last vintage update, we showed how everything was going great and all we needed now was 6-8 weeks of sunshine and no rain. Since then, we have certainly had our share of rain.
Now that the pessimist in me has been allowed to express itself, it is again still too early to tell how the year will turn out. The rains we have been having really are only a big deal to our Chardonnay harvest at this time, as it is the only variety on the cusp of being ready. In fact we are picking our first block today (more on that below).
The good news is also that our vineyard manager Kevin Goolsby has kept our vines in the best shape I have seen in my now-about-to-be-8th vintage in Virginia. Because he has kept the vines in such great shape, we still are not rushing to pick based on rot coming from the rains. The fruit all still looks great. Looking at the forecast there is some sun coming and we think many of the Chardonnay blocks will be able to hang into that sun and really get some stunning character. All other varieties certainly will make it.
The block of Chardonnay we are picking today is our oldest vines and they are being picked simply because they are ready. They do not seem to have lost concentration or flavor over the last week, but numerically they are just starting to slow down so there is little benefit to hanging these grapes any longer. I do think they will turn out quite nice in the end, as it is always a more advanced block, and this year’s crop might be the most concentrated and complex we have picked from it. Part of the earlier pick is that we are aiming to accentuate the acidity a bit more this year than in years past. Right now we are loving where the sugars and acids are working together.
Tomorrow will be our second day of harvesting and it will be as interesting one and a first. We are going to do our first pass on our Road Block Chardonnay. It will be the trickiest harvest we have done in a while, as the ripening on this block is fairly uneven form the winter. For that reason we have called in the big guns, Tim Kish (Asst. Winemaker), Kevin and myself to go pick only the clusters we want today and leave the rest to continue ripening. Should be a fun day picking. Haven’t personally done that in quite some time.
Next time you hear from me I should have far stickier hand pounding this key board and will be making up new words from my lack of sanity caused by sleep deprivation. Cheers!