Today I saw the corner of my desk for perhaps the first time since starting at Robert Mondavi Winery. I, like most people I would assume, have a pile of things “to do” at the corner of my desk. Over the past year that pile has increased to levels where at some moments papers were falling this way and that every time I walked by. Occasionally I reduced it to one or two papers but there was always something on that corner to do. Finally, I feel I’m catching up. This time of year we are working on coaxing the last of the new wines from 2013 through Malolactic conversion. We are barreling down the last lots from tanks and getting ready to finish blending the 2012 wines some of which will be going to bottling as early as this May. We are also approaching one of my favorite times of the winemaking year, Marketing travel season! This year I have a few trips that are on the calendar including a trip to Europe during which I’ll visit London and Dusseldorf, Germany. I’m SO excited about this one because I have never spent anytime in Germany and have spent very little time in London. At the end of the trip I’m taking a few personal days to tour one of my favorite wine regions; the Mosel! I love Riesling and the Mosel is the Mecca for Riesling lovers. I’m also going to the East Coast for a little bit, hitting Tennessee, Missouri, and Georgia at different times this year. It should be lots of fun. I haven’t done any serious traveling since early 2012 and I really miss it. We’ll see how different it is now that I have a family vs when it was just my husband and I. Anyway, that cleaned off corner on my desk represents a change I the seasons of winemaking and I for one am welcoming it!
After a grueling 12 weeks (well really 8 weeks if you really get down to brass tacks) we are finished. A week ago we received our last fruit. It was fast, hurried and at some times very scary as we just barely squeezed all the fruit in the door. Tank space was at a premium and there were days when we didn’t see space for the fruit two days ahead of us but it always managed to work out. Now we’re just going through the remaining fermentations and macerations and deciding when to press.
It will probably be mid-November before all the tanks are pressed and all the wines are put to rest in barrels for the next few months while we turn our attention to blending the 2012 Cabernets and beginning the blending of the 2013 Pinot Noir. A calm has settled over the winery now. One which I hope will continue for the next few months until bottling season comes next spring.
The smell of composting pumace fills the valley this morning. Most people assume it’s the smell of fermentation but to my nose it is the spent pumace of the newly created wine. This week has had amazing weather. The fall has been long and warm leading to amazing color and fantastic concentration. I think I can safely say that the average Brix has been right around 26. Those that don’t want high alcohol need to fear not however because sugar conversions have been very reasonable, even low by some standards. Some of our Pinot Noirs are through with Malolactic now and are ready to begin the extended aging process. The quality still looks fantastic! Our cellar is working hard at getting the first year Chai ready to receive the new wines.
The laser they use to line up the bung holes shines on the walls as our crew works to make the cellar look like the immaculate room that everyone sees throughout the year. The first two pictures were taken yesterday. The following from this morning.
Very quick progress which should be finished by the end of the week, right as we begin to press our high end Cabernets. Right now it looks like the final day of harvest will either be Monday or Tuesday next week. It also looks like my hopes of a harvest-free Halloween will be realized this year!