Heard Through the Grapevine: Harvest Update September 27, 2016
Heard in the vineyards this week:
“So, looks like we should start thinking about the pressing lunch.” – Daniel Baron, Director of Winemaking
Translation: We’re in the home stretch. The pressing lunch is a tradition Silver Oak picked up from Daniel’s time in Bordeaux, where pressing the last tank is cause for celebration in the cellar. In our version, the winemaking team cooks a special meal for the rest of the company that consists of (what we are told is) a traditional French dish of ribeye with sauce Bordelaise and Caesar Salad. Of course, this is followed up with wine and song. The ribeyes aren’t well done but neither are the songs (ba-dump-bum).
In Napa, Soda Canyon Ranch will be picked out tomorrow. We’re moving up in elevation this week as all that remains is Jump Rock Vineyard and some grower fruit, both in the Atlas Peak AVA. The weather these days is nice and hot, which will push these last vineyards past the finish line.
The vineyard team in Alexander Valley has been picking Cabernet Sauvignon non-stop since September 7, and will finish the season tomorrow with the last of Red Tail. Then, I suspect our vineyard manager is going fishing.
The wines are really gorgeous. In Napa, the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is polished and refined, even soon after coming out of fermenter. It appears to also be a stellar year for Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. In Alexander Valley, we’ve achieved excellent ripeness levels and the wines have pretty fruit expression and substantial structure. In both counties, color has been astounding - the wines are inky dark right off the vine.
Someone asked me not long ago how much walking I do on a daily basis during harvest. According to my iPhone, since September 1 the average count for work days is somewhere in the 18,000 step and 7.5-mile range. I would be an Olympic athlete by this point, except for the nearly 1,000 grape berries I consume on a daily basis. We sacrifice our fitness for killer wine!
Silver Oak Winemaker