Right now I’m tooling around Napa Valley, listening to Mumford and sons, and walking vineyards. Specifically Pinot Noir vineyards. One morning, Genevieve and I tracked our steps and realized we had walked over 5 miles in 3 hours. It’s great exercise and also a wonderful way to see what is happening with the fruit. This year, now that I’m at Mondavi, I have the luxury of being out in the vineyards every morning. I’ve already memorized all the blocks of Stanly Ranch and the locations of our other family owned vineyards for Pinot Noir. I’ve never been able to learn vineyards so quickly before and the little discoveries that I’ve found about them are so exciting. This hill has more flavor, that slope has better color, the tannins smooth out when you cross the rise. All of these things are discovered by tasting the fruit. I chew the skins to determine the potential color extraction, taste the pulp, and look at the seeds to determine ripeness and readiness to pick. That, together with the lab analysis, help us determine the date of harvest. We’ve decided to pick about 23 tons of Pinot Noir next Monday to start the red wine season so the harvest is here for the red wines at Robert Mondavi! This is earlier than normal but as I said before not that abnormally early. I still see about 1 week ahead in most vineyards. I’m still cautiously optimistic about being able to enjoy Halloween this year!
Week 1 of harvest is upon us. That’s not saying we’re getting fruit this week but that the season is upon us. For those of you who have followed a vintage with me before, you know I start week 1 with the first week in August and it continues for the next 14 weeks. This is an early year so far. 2004 was the warmest in recent years and we are knocking on that record already. The nights recently have been cool leading to foggy mornings and warm sunny afternoons. We have Sauvignon Blanc at 21 Brix and saw our sister winery, Franciscan, bring in their first fruit today. Needless to say we are very close to bringing in fruit ourselves. I’m daring to hope for a clear Halloween this year without having to worry about which vineyards will be hanging out through it.
In the vineyards, Veraison is almost complete in To Kalon with almost black bunches in every block. The Malbec was particularly interesting today with super dark color already at only 14 Brix. It looks like it will be a very interesting year if the weather holds.
At home, our pears are coming ripe and the tomatoes and zucchini have been prolific! Bring on the baked zucchini with fresh tomatoes, oregano, basil, and mozzarella cheese! I love this time of year because it is a time of great possibility from the vintage and fantastic fresh foods.
See you next week!
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.