Harvest 2011 – Week 8 – Harvest Halfway and MW preparations

At this point we’re halfway through the harvest season.  In another 8 weeks it will all be wrapped up.  Wine will be tucked away in barrels or tanks either going through ML, extended maceration, and sur lee aging.  Between now and then is the most complex time during the harvest.  This is when the bulk of our North coast fruit comes in. NorthCoast is made up of Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake Counties.  Next week we’ll be inundated with Sonoma County Chardonnay as well as seeing our first Cabernets come in from Lake County.  This week has seriously warmed up with temperatures between 95 and 100 degrees.  Hot but not hot enough to really do damage like we had last year.  Just hot enough to kick the harvest into gear.  A ton of the reds are sitting around 22 Brix and as I heard someone put it for this harvest “22 is the new 24”.  I’m very excited about that prospect!  Chardonnay on the Central Coast is also coming in steadily this week.  My vineyards for Emma Pearl have ripened nicely and are now being received to begin the process of primary fermentation.  The Viognier that I use as 10% of the blend (give or take depending on the year) is already almost finished and ready to be sulfured.  Acids have been amazing and the flavors are already showing very well.  One of my earliest lots, a Gewurztraminer, is finished with primary, has had SO2 added and was clarified.  At this point I’m just trying to figure out in what blend will the beautiful spicy aroma fit. 


I’m also trying to work on my MW studies during this crazy time although it does tend to get put to the back burner this time of year.  Since my disappointing results that I wrote about at the beginning of the month I’ve been able to rally through the support of many of my fellow students, colleagues, friends, and of course family. I feel like I have a much better plan than I did at this time last year (when I was still in shock and moping about). This week I cut up the last 11 years of theory exam reports and filed them in folders based on the theory paper the questions and commentary came from.  My goal for the weekend is to get them sorted in to question buckets to try to see if I can discern a common theme (outside of the obvious themes of the papers) among the similar questions.  In November, I will be traveling to Bordeaux and Burgundy thanks to a scholarship sponsored by AXA Millésimes with five of my fellow MW students from around the world.  I’m very excited and love the fact that I’ll be touring in Burgundy, the classic home of my favorite red variety, Pinot Noir!  I’ve resurrected my essay question basket and am seriously considering re writing all the essays that I’ve done running up to the exam this past year.  I also would like to finish my World Wine File, an excel file distilling all the pertinent information about regions and countries of the world including climate, soils, laws, varieties, and general descriptors.  Perhaps one day I’ll put it up on this site as a paid subscription information source.  Heck, maybe it will be a book eventually. Who knows, but right now I want to get that massive database finished! These are huge goals but I’m going to try.  After all achieving the MW is a huge goal as well and if one is going to dream why not dream big?


First, I have to get all the grapes put to bed… Bring on the 2nd half!

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