Winemaker's Journal: A Day In The Life

Director of Winemaking Daniel Baron and Grower Relations Manager Nick Filice walk the vineyards to determine when to harvest.

Ever wondered what a day in the life of a winemaker would be like during harvest? Read below to find out what Harvest 2013 is like from Daniel Baron’s perspective.

Winemaker’s Journal
September 12, 2013

6:30 am: Wake up, have breakfast, read sports page.

7:40 am: Arrive at Soda Canyon Vineyard in southeast Napa Valley, meet with Dave Shein (our Napa Valley Vineyard Manager) and Nick Filice (our Grower Relations Manager) to look at grape maturities, tonnages and decide on where to taste that morning.

8:00 am: Begin walking vineyard: Block 26a has shredding skins, great berry flavor and soft tannins. It is ready for Friday or Saturday. 26 b, 25a (not ready – leathery skins, pyrazines) Block 5 (good progress from last tasting).

9:00 am: Leave Soda Canyon Vineyard and head west to Dry Creek Road to taste Petit Verdot with Nick. Skins beginning to shred, great color and varietal character – ready for Saturday. Nick makes call to arrange pick, I make call to arrange tanks.

9:30 am: Drive to St. Helena, call to Christiane (Associate Winemaker) re: tank space and choices for Oakville deliveries.

10:00 am to 10:10am: Personal time – Pick up wedding band at David’s Jeweler after burr removal and polish – so far wife hasn’t noticed.

10:15 am: Arrive at Navone Vineyard in St. Helena and meet Nick – taste West and Northeast blocks – amazing change from the weekend – delicious juicy flavors, shredding skin, resolved tannins – ready for Friday. Meet with Dave and Rafael who are there finalizing pick to decide picking schedule. Consult with Christiane re: tanks. Decide to move Soda Canyon Vineyard Block 26a pick to Saturday.

10:45 am: Drive to Healdsburg warehouse to drop off Nick’s truck and sign some bottles for shipment.

11:30 am: Drive north to summer bridge north of Geyserville and cross over to River Road just south of Cloverdale to visit 3 vineyards from which we source grapes. Go to 2nd vineyard of three (to avoid heat). Walk the extremely steep Blocks 9 and 10 – showing stress from heat spell, some raisining, good flavors and skins shredding ok for Saturday. Block 11 (just adjacent) leathery skins not ready. Blocks 2 and 3 still veggie, not ready.

12:40 pm: Drive south on River Road to vineyard A#1 and taste E blocks. Blocks 2 and 5 (catcher and third base) much better than last Saturday – skins shredding, tannins resolved – good for Saturday.

1:25 pm: Double back to vineyard #3 closer to Cloverdale and taste Block 3 – skins shredding, good flavors, still an edge of acidity – good for Saturday or Monday.

1:50 pm: Arrive at Hamburger Ranch for lunch (finally). I order Continental Burger, and Red Beans and Rice - could have done with only half of the half pounder. Nick orders two meats and two sides, admits the mac and cheese was probably too much. Agree my turn to pay.

2:30 pm: Head to Geyserville Estate Vineyard – Decide to test stability of Acura MDX on non-road side hill. Nick freaks. Taste Blocks 2, 3 and 4 – not ready – skins leathery and very tannic. Flavors a bit dull – agree to retaste on Monday.

3:00 pm: Walk to winery and taste beakers with Christiane – agree that early calls on first picks were excellent – wines are dark, full bodied, rich and lower in sugar than we anticipated. Brief consultation with Emily the intern re Berry Sensory Training on Friday.

3:20 pm: Drive to our Miraval Vineyard in Alexander Valley.

3:40 pm: Arrive at Miraval – taste two different sections of Block 1 which represents 110 tons of fruit. First section is great for Friday – soft berries and shredding skins, great flavors, resolved tannins. Second section is excellent until change of slope, so we decide we can pick half of it. Nick consults with Brad (Silver Oak & Twomey Sonoma County Vineyard Manager) as to pickers capacity and Christiane as to tank size and decide on strategy.

4:20 pm: Arrive at our Twomey Healdsburg, having picked up Nick’s truck at Warehouse. Nick goes to office to input berry data on Fruition site. Ben (Twomey Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc Winemaker) and I discuss crush and then go taste Sauvignon Blanc tanks to decide which ones can be consolidated to generate tank space. Then we taste through all Pinot lots – some really good juice there.

5:20 pm: Go to vineyard office to look at sugar per berry curves to ascertain state of sugar loading in Alexander Valley fruit. Call Joe (Oakville Cellarmaster) to ask him to leave beakers out.

5:50 pm: Leave for Oakville.

7:00 pm: Arrive in Oakville – taste through beakers, noting two tanks that will need attention. Email Christiane and Laura (Enologist) with observations. Do impressive pyramid stack of empty beakers. Will anyone notice tomorrow morning?

7:30 to 8:07pm: Download weather, brix reports and tank data and print out and add to binder, clear email.

8:07 pm: Head for home: 4th inning Giants 1, Dodgers 1

8:25 pm: Arrive home to hot shower, delicious dinner and tight Giants Dodger game, replay of America’s Cup.

11:00 pm: To bed.

Summary: miles driven – about 250, miles walked – ???, vineyard blocks tasted – 20, picks called – 7, wineries visited – 3, tanks tasted - about 35; high temperature in Cloverdale - 87˚F