Harvest Update September 15, 2016
Bordeaux reds are now in full-on harvest mode. The bit of heat we had last week pushed a lot of vineyards into the harvest window, which means that the winemaking staff have been covering a lot of ground. There is a two-pronged approach we apply to making the important decision about when to harvest that includes both sampling (and subsequent lab analysis) and the berry sensory analysis portion. Often, the two cooperate and line up simultaneously. However, the funny thing about this profession we call winemaking is that, just as often, a vineyard block that has all the chemistry markers of being ripe doesn’t pass the taste test, so we make the commitment to be present in every block to make the call. At the moment, we have some of the latter case, which results in us returning in a day or two, as a lot can change in a surprisingly short amount of time. This makes for some busy days.
Although we have not hit “all-out” mode in the Oakville or Geyserville Wineries yet with respect to crushing or cap management, I’ll quote House Stark (Game of Throne fans out there?) and warn that “Winter [Wine-ter?] is Coming”. It’s going to be a busy few weeks.
Twomey has just about finished all the Sauvignon Blanc at our Merino Vineyard in Santa Rosa. Monument Tree has continued to come in steadily and will probably be completed this week. The last few blocks from Bien Nacido and Garys’ Vineayrds are soon to be harvested. The crew started on the final Russian River Valley vineyard, Bailey, last Friday. Erin and Daniel made their way to Oregon last week and the first fruit from the Willamette Valley was picked over the weekend. The pressing out has continued, paving the way for a comfortable ride in the fermentation cellar the rest of the way. The crew at Twomey Healdsburg have the processing finish line in their sights!
The Merlot from Soda Canyon has come in steadily with a few blocks yet to go. These fermentations are far along and we’ve been very pleased with the fruit expression and the way they’ve been extracting. At Soda Canyon, we also have what we call the “Rocky Blocks” of Cabernet Sauvignon with thin, rocky soils and a southern exposure that tend to be the earliest Cabernet in the vineyard. These Rocky Blocks have been coming in steadily and are almost picked out. This week, we’ll likely complete or come close to completing the Soda Canyon Ranch Merlot harvest and be well into the Cabernet Sauvignon from there. Soda Canyon Ranch Petit Verdot is not far behind, but Malbec and Cabernet Franc may be a few weeks yet. We’ll also start with some partnering grower fruit from St Helena at the Milat and Navone Vineyards. We will likely work our way into the mountains, as Atlas Peak, where Jump Rock and a few growers are located, is moving along quickly due to the summer inversion layer and extended hours of daylight above the fog.
Our Alexander Valley vineyard team have kept a steady pace, as we began with a number of blocks at Miraval, and then will move to our new Alexander Valley Estate and harvest the young vines there and then head to Geyserville, where we’ll harvest the estate around the winery. Once that’s finished early this week, it’ll either be back to Miraval or on to Red Tail for the crew. It may be one of the quickest and most efficient harvests of estate fruit in Alexander Valley ever if Red Tail cooperates! We’ll line them up and the vineyard team will knock them down! We have yet to pick any grower fruit in Alexander Valley but that will change in a big way next week. They are all on our radar and either are or have a chance of getting picked in the next 5-10 days. What’s interesting is that these vineyards are geographically and very topographically diverse, but all seem to be right on top of one another in maturity. What a way to start our last harvest in the Geyserville Winery.