Today I was out with Genevieve looking at Pinot Noir in Carneros. Imagine my surprise when we discovered the first Veraison of the year!!!! It’s only 10% right now but I’m still so excited! That means harvest is only 5-6 weeks away.
The weather has finally settled into a somewhat normal pattern with cool foggy mornings warming to hot, beautiful days and back to cool nights which are ideal for ripening. The next two months will be critical for determining the fate of this vintage.
As we’re now in mid-June and just finished bloom I must say this vintage has me concerned. As I walked through our Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot today at Asti Winery, in the Alexander Valley, I noted that fruit set is variable. Merlot seemed a bit more erratic than the Sauvignon Blanc though. More than one winemaker I know has brought up the thought that at this pace we’re going to be crushing into November. Inevitably when this thought is voiced in a group of vineyard and winery folks there is a good deal of nodding, thoughtful noises made, and glances towards the sky.
The winery at this point has taken on the feeling of the calm before the storm. We’ve begun to have pre-harvest meetings. I’ve noticed equipment being serviced that is only used for those crazy 2-3 months out of the year. Hoists for the crush hoppers, presses, and de-stemmers all get their fair share of attention. Oak orders are being decided as well as other harvest needs. This year as well we have the exciting abet noisy event of construction as well. New tanks are being constructed and their foundations are being laid concurrently right in the middle of everything with hopes that the majority of the work will be complete before the rains come.
Back to the timing of harvest itself. There are a few thoughts as to how this year is going to play out and it all hinges on the temperature between now and when the grapes are ripe. If the weather stays between 90-95 degrees during the day we’ll catch up and have a semi-normal harvest (if such a thing exists). If it stays too cool or goes above 95 where grapes cease all metabolic reactions then it could be possible that everything could ripen proportionately late or even worse, all at one time.
We can only hope that it warms up enough to catch the growth cycle up because that’s the best case scenario at this point.