After the events of last week, my thoughts are that we are pretty much finished with the normal ripening process for this harvest. We had another rain storm that dropped an additional 1/2 in of rain on Calistoga and thunderstorms on Friday that brought a massive hail storm and lightning to the valley. Luckily it doesn’t seem that any fruit was severely damaged from the hail but all the moisture in the air has started to take its toll and some of the green mold that comes with rain is starting to show up. The canopies look tired and the vines have fully lignified signaling their start towards dormancy.
When one looks around the valley more often than not the vineyards are picked now and slowly turning to the beautiful yellow of fall. Harvest now becomes a logistics game. Who has tanks? Who has crews to pick? Who has trucks to haul the fruit if the first two questions are met with answers. With the rain during week 7, some of the high Brix that we had been seeing went backwards a bit so we aren’t going to be seeing the incredibly high brix harvest that I had feared. Flavor concentration still looks good so that is a blessing.
I couldn’t help but think about anyone doing dessert wines because I bet this year would be stellar for botrytis and combined with the ripe fruit concentration that was reached before the rain, it has the potential to be a fantastic year for desserts. I’ll have to reach out to my winemaking buddy and dessert specialist, Roger Harrison, to get his take on it.
Some growers are already seeing the end to their season while for the rest the end is almost in sight. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and barring any major fermentation issues this harvest should wrap up smoothly and very early.