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!