It’s been pouring this weekend! Everyone has been extremely excited but also with that much rain at one time comes additional problems such as trees falling over the roads and flooding. I don’t hear too much complaining though. At this point in the season, it sounds like we have enough water to make it through this year. The upper Napa River is flowing swiftly and is very full.
We are also less than 2 weeks away from bud break. The vines are weeping fairly strongly at this point (at least the ones in my back yard are) which is a sure sign that bud break is right around the corner. It seems to be tracking right along with the past two years so we might be in for another early harvested year depending on what the weather pattern does this summer.
Spring has definitely sprung in Napa! The mustard is in full bloom and the Robins are flocking to the area.
My daffodils are coming up and are 1 week out from full bloom there as well. We still need more water but we are sitting in pretty good shape for the season right now
The end is near. Well the end of this harvest anyway. I has been the earliest harvest I have ever experienced. It has also been a very strange one with the rain during flowering, drought, earthquake, hail, more rain, heat, and this week even more rain which should put a cap on a very eventful harvest. We received our last Chardonnay on last Friday. We will receive our last fruit of the season this coming Friday making the earliest harvest I have ever experienced also the earliest ending harvest I have ever experienced.
Some of our earliest Pinot Noir picks are finished with ML and being SO2ed this week. Among them is a very special lot of wine which I am still amazed that I had a hand in. The fruit was from one of our Pinot Noir Reserve growers. It was a earlier pick than the winery would traditionally have gone for however it is something for Pinot that I believe is important. We hand harvested it at 24 Brix then allowed it to ferment using the yeasts coming in with the fruit in an open top fermenter. The resulting wine is beautiful. Every now and then as a winemaker you stand back and realize that you’ve helped create something truly special and Genevieve and I both feel that this tiny lot, only 350 gallons, is special even amongst our other Reserve lots which are pretty incredible if you look at their qualities independently. We may be bottling it separately to make sure that it can be enjoyed by more than just us but only time will tell. It’s been an amazing year for Pinot Noir and I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of it.
This will conclude my weekly harvest coverage. Usually I go all the way through to week 14 but this year just doesn’t warrant it. Next Monday I will be back to my usual blog topics. Once again, if there are any interesting winemaking topics that anyone wants more information on feel free to leave me a comment and let me know what you want to read about.
Like a duck gliding slowly, wings spread wide, feet reaching for landing on a pond, we are coming to the end of an incredibly fast harvest. Last week we saw extreme temperatures. Extreme cold in the mid 40s and extreme heat in the mid 90s. I have seen some vineyards in Calistoga with frost damage at this point and that only reconfirms my belief that the season is coming to a close. We have about a week an a half left of harvest at the winery to bring in all the remaining fruit. It is mostly Bordeaux varieties with one lone block of Chardonnay down in Carneros that routinely takes its sweet time ripening.
The theme of this year has been low extractability. We are having to work extremely hard to extract what color and flavors are in the skins. Maybe that is a result of the drought. Maybe the skins are thicker and harder due to the lack of water. However, this was not the case last year which was also a drought year. Quality looks good. We are just having to work harder to keep it than in 2013. It also seems to be a year of slow yeast. Very few fermentations are “finishing strongly” with most going well until 3 or 4 Brix then slowing down to a crawl to the finish line.
For myself, I’ve signed up for a 10K on November 9th in Calistoga. I wanted something to look forward to and work towards now that the Master of Wine program is no longer in my life. Personally, I really can’t stand running. I much prefer dancing, Pilates, Yoga, or even biking to running. However, if I want to push myself I can’t stick with the easy stuff. I have to motivate myself to do it. Unfortunately my training has been hindered by an fateful run in with a tick sometime last month and fighting the resulting infection that may potentially be Lyme disease. Why am I posting this? One, if one person who reads this blog remembers to check for the beastly buggers after wandering around in the outdoors it was worth it. Two, I believe in being open, honest, and fully authentic. In this blog I’m not only writing about wine and winemaking but also its affect on my life. Fortunately and unfortunately, one of the requirements of the job is being outdoors much of the year with all the highs and lows that come with that. I’m under good care and well on my way to making a full recovery however prayers are always appreciated!
Stay safe my friends!