With October nearing its end, Summer has finally surrendered to the momentum of Autumn. Only a handful of grapes cling to the yellow, orange, and red-crowned vines; final hold outs of a harvest season that began over two months ago. Along with cool winds and crisp mornings, this month has afforded us a much needed pause to look back at what we’ve accomplished.
We’re pleased to report that the 2017 harvest has produced grapes of exceptional quality. Ideal conditions for bloom and fruit set helped to begin the growing season with its best foot forward, seeing no notable damage from heat, untimely rains, or pests. Just one minor heat wave in early September advanced a few of our picking decisions, but otherwise we saw uniform, typical development.
Most of our white wines, rosés, and light reds like Pinot Noir reached maturity and were picked in late August through the first few days of September. Our heavier reds, like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, experienced a slower ripening (as to be expected) that caused them to be picked a bit later – late September through October. As of today, we have one last pick of Cabernet Sauvignon to finish the season.
Luckily, as if in concert with Mother Nature, the 2017 fruit arrived with good numbers, and went through even, measured, and healthy fermentations. Two notable characteristics of the 2017 harvest, however, have been the slightly lower than average acidity and lower than average yields. Meeting with this has allowed us to account for the variable and we’ll use it to showcase the natural expression of the full, fruit flavors we’re experiencing this year.
Preparing for harvest often involves being mindful of tank and barrel space. So, while keeping an eye on the ripening grapes, we were hustling to prepare and bottle wines from the previous year and storing others for additional ageing. Other harvest preparations included the sanitation and maintenance of cellar and harvest equipment and the proper training of staff for the tidal wave of work that was about to ensue.
Every year, despite all of the preparation and years of experience, grape deliveries to the winery always seem to sneak up on you. This harvest has been no exception. We underwent a lot of long days and long nights on the crush pad (and have a couple more to endure) but we are happy to report that we’ve executed with poise and precision. And, although the work has been hard, we still make time to have fun.
If we’re not dancing through the cellar, jamming out on the crush pad, or devouring a burrito from our favorite burrito delivery guy, we can be found enjoying each other’s company on a quick break. Wine is not the only thing that we, as wine-workers, get out of harvest. We gain new friends, strengthen relationships, and learn and teach each other about the intricacies of what we do and love. Then, at the end of it all, we not only make a wine that communicates the dirt in which it is grown, but we also made a wine that reminds us of all the people that it takes to make it.
The wines are now beginning to take shape. They’re finishing their ferments, developing individual personalities, and finding a home in barrels or tanks for the ageing process. The complicated task of blending is also in full force, mixing and matching our hundreds of individual wine batches to discover what combination of colors, aromas, flavors, and textures will make their way into our family of 2017 wines. When they’re ready, we will be excited to share the 2017 vintage with our wine club members and other followers across the country. As this month closes and the vineyards begin to sleep, we get a short reprieve for reflection, but the winery is still humming with activity.