August 30, 2015 and we have harvested most of our Chardonnay and have begun the Pinot Noir harvest as well.
Chardonnay has been harvested every day since we began the harvest eight days ago and we have picked all of the fruit from the Bergstrom Vineyard, Silice, Le Pre du Col and the Winery Block. We have yet to pick the later Chardonnay sites of Gregory Ranch and Temperance Hill although I believe those vineyards will be ripe and ready this upcoming week. The Chardonnays look very good this year.
We intentionally harvest Chardonnay earlier than many as we are not concerned about sugars. I am trying to capture the bright natural acidities that lend freshness and focus to our Chardonnays and that can only be done by harvesting when those acids are perfect, which happens earlier than Pinot Noir.
In the distant past we were harvesting Chardonnay only when the sugar/brix levels reached natural potential alcohol levels of 13.5 or 14% and the fruit flavors were of ripe melon, golden delicious apple and tropical fruits. Little did I know then that once Chardonnay fruit attains that level of ripeness, it is too late to make a wine with freshness, succulence and acidic focus. We now pay more attention to pH, malic and tartaric acid levels and completely disregard sugar levels. Fruit flavors at harvest have more in common with lemons, limes, Granny Smith apples and herbal verbena than anything else. A wine figure who I admire in the Chardonnay world recently said something to the effect of “if chardonnay tastes good at harvest, you have waited too long.” I concur.
Chardonnay is more about a leap of faith than anything. The textures, the richness and the sweetness evolve through 18 months of ageing and two different fermentations. We are harvesting the bud so to speak and watching the wine bloom over the longer term. The Chardonnay we are searching for to make our “Sigrid” will not show itself for two years once we have harvested the fruit. Sleepless nights and worry over picking so early can only be tempered by the knowledge that Chardonnay is a waiting game and the proof is in the patience.
We have also begun the Pinot Noir harvest with two blocks from the Bergstrom Vineyard and one block of fruit from Silice. These are perennially our first blocks of fruit to not only ripen but to often times become too ripe and so we have to be diligent in picking when the time is right. The flavors are great this year and so we hope that these first picks are a sign of more great things to come.
Today however is a rainy Sunday and so we are taking a day off to enjoy the rain and enjoy our families and friends (maybe a little football game too) and get ready for the big harvest push that will surely begin next week.