There is so much to talk about from the past few weeks while my family and I have been relocating across the country! I decided to break them down into small bites…
Bite 1: Arsenic Anyone?
I really don’t want to give this story any more time than it takes for me to acknowledge it however Alder Yarrow from Vinography.com did an amazing post telling you why exactly you shouldn’t be worried about this and instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, please read his post here.
Bite 2: WE’RE HERE!!!!!
We arrived into the beautiful and chilly state of New York last weekend and are now settling into our new house. Currently one entire room is devoted to unpacked, empty boxes but once those get hauled away tomorrow we should be in fairly good shape as far as moving in is concerned.
I started my new job last week and while it is a dramatic change from Robert Mondavi, it should present a good challenge. Back in January, we closed on 12 acres on the shores of Seneca lake and I went out that day to put “Posted” signs up. Upon our return last weekend all but 1 of the 6 signs were torn down. I’m hoping it is just a combination of wind and extreme cold but I can’t help but be worried that the former owner of a nice deer stand on our land may have had something to do with it. Our goal is to clear much of the land this summer once the soil dries out some from all the snow this winter. That way we can start to see where our future house and vineyards will go! We are very excited about this new phase of our lives.
Bite 3: Vintage 2015 Update
New York: It’s cold. It has been VERY, VERY cold this winter. I’m a little concerned that we may not have many grapes to make wine with from the western side of the state. Even though we got another 3 inches of snow this morning, signs of spring are everywhere. Those 3 inches were mostly melted away by mid afternoon. Robins are showing up and Canadian Geese can be heard flying overhead, heading North. Maybe we’ll be close to budbreak around the middle of May.
Napa: Budbreak is everywhere and frost season is in full swing according to a friend of mine. There has still been very little rain so the area is poised for a 3rd consecutive drought season. Again, I wouldn’t want the be the grower that has to choose between protecting what crop they may have this year and saving water so that they can ripen that crop.
Those are the bites for the week! Happy growing season everyone!
Like a duck gliding slowly, wings spread wide, feet reaching for landing on a pond, we are coming to the end of an incredibly fast harvest. Last week we saw extreme temperatures. Extreme cold in the mid 40s and extreme heat in the mid 90s. I have seen some vineyards in Calistoga with frost damage at this point and that only reconfirms my belief that the season is coming to a close. We have about a week an a half left of harvest at the winery to bring in all the remaining fruit. It is mostly Bordeaux varieties with one lone block of Chardonnay down in Carneros that routinely takes its sweet time ripening.
The theme of this year has been low extractability. We are having to work extremely hard to extract what color and flavors are in the skins. Maybe that is a result of the drought. Maybe the skins are thicker and harder due to the lack of water. However, this was not the case last year which was also a drought year. Quality looks good. We are just having to work harder to keep it than in 2013. It also seems to be a year of slow yeast. Very few fermentations are “finishing strongly” with most going well until 3 or 4 Brix then slowing down to a crawl to the finish line.
For myself, I’ve signed up for a 10K on November 9th in Calistoga. I wanted something to look forward to and work towards now that the Master of Wine program is no longer in my life. Personally, I really can’t stand running. I much prefer dancing, Pilates, Yoga, or even biking to running. However, if I want to push myself I can’t stick with the easy stuff. I have to motivate myself to do it. Unfortunately my training has been hindered by an fateful run in with a tick sometime last month and fighting the resulting infection that may potentially be Lyme disease. Why am I posting this? One, if one person who reads this blog remembers to check for the beastly buggers after wandering around in the outdoors it was worth it. Two, I believe in being open, honest, and fully authentic. In this blog I’m not only writing about wine and winemaking but also its affect on my life. Fortunately and unfortunately, one of the requirements of the job is being outdoors much of the year with all the highs and lows that come with that. I’m under good care and well on my way to making a full recovery however prayers are always appreciated!
Stay safe my friends!
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.