Tag Archives: Harvest 2013

Week 8- Just Hang on for the Ride


I snapped this quick photo of one of our vineyards this week while I was quickly trying to get to see all of them. Long story short, almost all if them are ready. After the rain last Saturday, the weather turned mild and breezy which quickly dried everything out. That first rain ( 1/2 inch in Oakville) really helped dust everything off and refresh the vines. Now they are forecasting a second shower this upcoming Sunday evening. We spent this week brining in as much fruit as we reasonably had tank space for even before the threat of a second rain was realized. The quality still looks fantastic and I remain highly optimistic about the vintage. When one is in the thick of it, as we are now, there is only one thing to do. Hang on for the ride. The middle of harvest I imagine is kind of like surfing (having never surfed myself this has no basis in personal experience). You’re being pushed along by a force greater than you can control and you can either ride it or be pummeled by it. Working long hours most days of the week, I find myself running on pure adrenaline most days. Add that to the occasional rough nights that my 11 month old’s teething causes and you have one exhausting mix. There are so many details to remember at this point during the winemaking process that the only way I have found to stay organized is by carting around at least 7 clipboards and a 3 ring binder in a bag everywhere I go. It’s heavy but it works. What do I need them for you ask?
1) Binder full if vineyard maps
2) Recent Brix analysis
3) Tonnage estimates by block
4) 3 day harvest schedule
5) Today’s harvest instructions
6) Analysis and additions ordered for tanks already crushed.
7) Tasting sheets for the juices and fermentors.
In short, all the information I would need at any given point in the day. I am convinced that you can not make wine without clipboards. Surviving harvest is all about organization and I think I have a system worked out that will allow me to surf this wave if fruit all the way to the end. Week 8 is halfway!!!

Week 5 – The Week of Pinot and have you seen the Brix on Cabernet??


Last Friday we brought in our first Cabernet of the season from To Kalon vineyard for the blessing of the harvest. It was an amazing experience to witness complete with songs, speeches, and of course, a Catholic priest to conduct the blessing of the fruit and all attendees.

Outside of this small deviation, my entire focus has been on Pinot Noir. Well that and kicking the fall cold my son was so kind to share with me. By the end of this week we will have brought in the vast majority of the Pinot Noir. Since we were getting close to the end for Pinot, I have been watching the weather like a hawk. Pinot is notoriously fickle. It will stall just before ripeness is achieved then at the slightest hint of a heat wave suddenly jumps and can go past optimum flavors faster than you can blink. I’ve adopted a strategy to pick some s little early to balance the inevitable over ripe fruit that tends to show up towards the end. This year, however, the weather has stayed cool for the most part with only the end of this week threatening hot days. By then, thanks to careful planning and efficiently of the winery team and our growers we seem to be keeping one step ahead so far. I won’t count it done however until all of it is in. Then I will focus my complete attention to our Bordeaux varieties, which, by the way are sitting at the 22-24 range in Brix right now however the flavors are not even close to ripe. My personal optimum Brix to pick Cabernet is 24.5-25. This year I don’t think that is going to be realistic. That is not the style this vintage is giving us. Be prepared for some big concentrated beasts this year! We’ll see how it goes but I’m thinking 26-27 might be the average Brix for Cabernet in the valley for 2013.

Only the coming weeks will tell for sure.

Vintage 2013 – Week 2; The Grapes Commeth!


One of our Stags Leap District vineyards.

The second week of the harvest season is upon us. This week we will be harvesting Sauvignon Blanc on Thursday and next week we will probably see the first of the Pinot Noir. The weather was unseasonably cool last week. Combined with the previous cool temperatures that drops our early harvest to only one week earlier than normal ( whatever normal actually is). The defining feature of this vintage so far is the acid. The weeks of cool weather have kept acids very high so far. How high you ask? How is a 10 TA so far for you? For the layman, this is pretty high. This week is calling for slightly above average temperatures so this should only be a temporary issue. The heat will work on the acid and everything should drop smoothly into place by the time fruit is ready to harvest. Phenolic ripeness doesn’t seem to be an issue this year as the seeds and canes in Cabernet and Merlot are already almost completely brown.

Picture of a fully lignified (brown) cane.

With the warming in the future this is setting up to be a memorable vintage. I’ve always considered 13 one of my lucky numbers. So far, it seems to be holding.