Is it Still Harvest?
So our normal harvest is about 6 weeks long starting with some Chardonnay and Viognier and then gradually working our way through Merlot, Syrah, Cabs, etc. It really feels quite fast paced and is a lot of fun. This is the time of year that we as winemakers normally complain about how hard life is standing in the sun harvesting grapes, pressing, testing and tasting through our fermentations. It is hard work enjoying your hobby 12-16 hours per day :)
So now, this year is different. We are still having an absolute blast, but there are times where almost boredom has ensued as well. We are working a 9-5 harvest! Where most years come and go in 6 weeks, this year we have already been going for 35 days and have just finished up our Chardonnay. Strangely the first thing picked was also Chardonnay. It is just one of the vintages where the weather so far is working with us and creating slow and even ripening, but really showing the differences based on the block the fruit has come from and even the side of the vine. We have been able to harvest all our blocks separately and with all but one block harvest one side of the vine (in our case South side) and still have healthy fruit on the vine to continue to mature to optimal ripeness on the other side (North Side). What does that do for us? Simply put it maximizes the ripening potential of the entire vineyard gaining complexity and weight. What is especially cool about it this year is that the cool September that we have had has allowed the acidity to hold on and sugars to accumulate slower then the flavors and phenolics meaning balanced wines with moderate alcohol, crisp acidity and intense flavors and aromatics. Using Chardonnay as an example, in just two vineyards we have harvested Chardonnay 8 times.
So what's next? With the coming rain we have decided it is time to bring in some Merlot that is simply incredible prior to the rain. The fruit is over the top ripe, great ripe seeds and skins and also at moderate potential alcohol (13-13.5%) and maintaining bright acidity. We are also bringing in our Tannat which is the first of the year that we expect to show some of the alcohol levels we were anticipating in August with those hot days. We will see. We are also thinking we will bringing in the South side of our Syrah vines as they have developed some incredible richness over the last week. This will leave us with some more Merlot and Syrah still our there as well as all of our Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon to weather this light rain we might have. They simply want more time, look good and will likely be harvested in 2-3 weeks from now.
All said, harvest has just been slow moving. What we normally do in 6 weeks we are now looking at closer to 10-11 weeks. It has just left us more time for true precisions winemaking an true attention to detail. A great year to learn more about our terroir in different blocks and put together the very best wines.