After several days of rain, fog and cool weather, the sun has peeked through the clouds and we are starting to harvest fruit again. The forecast calls for a week of fair conditions with little rain and more sun than we have seen in a while. The weather forecast cannot be trusted from here on out. We will probably not see the kind of warm and intense sunshine which will create a rise in sugars and a decrease in acids but the fruit will have a chance to dry out from the rain and build some more flavor and complexity. Normally in October we have reasonably nice harvest conditions until about Halloween and then the chance of sunshine diminishes greatly and the temperatures drop considerably. So now our harvest window is limited to the next three weeks. We have approximately 50 tons of fruit inside of the winery and roughly 100 tons to go. It is going to be a busy few weeks to come.
In the vineyards, the soils are wet and the cover crops which were carefully drilled into the rows last month are starting to emerge; sweet peas, rye, fescues, and other legumes will grow during the winter months to control erosion and will be tilled under in the spring, giving the soil lots of rich organic matter to fuel its microbiological population which help feed our vines. The leaves of the vines are now turning brilliant colors; reds, oranges and bright yellows. It is apparent this time of year where the wet spots in vineyards are because the canopy is still bright green and full of leaves whereas the thinner soiled vineyard blocks, which lack water, have almost lost all of their leaves in the fruiting zone. The birds are swarming through the vine rows filling their bellies with precious wine-grapes before their long journey south.
In the winery it smells like sweet fermentation (the closest I can come to defining the smell of fermentation is: a big warm jelly doughnut or fresh baked pie laced with the sting of carbon dioxide gas.) We have taken our whole-cluster fermentations to barrel already and we will be preparing several more barrels today and tomorrow, as we get ready to press out several more tanks from our initial picking two weeks ago. Over the last week we have harvested the last fruit from Shea Vineyard (Block 5 and the 828 clone block.), Black Hole Vineyard, Ayoub Vineyard, Hidden RocksElton Vineyard, Ortman Vineyard and today we are bringing in two tons of Pinot Noir from Meredith Mitchell. Even after sitting through one and one half inches of rain and several days of cloudy and cold weather, the grapes are full of great flavors with nice acids and ripe skins and seeds.
The new wines are surprisingly dark and rich with enormous flavors. The wines are high in natural acidity and lower in alcohol than previous years and show wonderful potential. As the fruit hangs longer, acids will begin to fall to levels which may need additions of tartaric acid to correct PH’s and keep fermentations sound. I have not seen a vineyard yet needing a sugar addition (chaptalization,) which is often common in cool and challenging vintages, and we have not had to bleed any of the cold soaks due to over-bloated berries. In summation: so far, so good. This week will see the final fruit from the Bergström Vineyard, de Lancellotti Vineyard, Eyrie Vineyard Chardonnay, Canary Hill, Durant Vineyard, Cherry Hill and others before we start on the Old vines from Hyland, Maresh and Nysa and the majority of the Pinot Gris and Riesling the week after that.