We begin to reflect the sky, this time of Harvest. When drab and gray, we resort to caffeine to perk ourselves. When sunny, bright blue and warming, we bring the party to the crush! A good thing too, since there has been no time to seek out the party during the sane hours–we’re still working.
This has been a Harvest of variation, with only a little more rain than normal, but with many more gray days that don’t easily make up for a late bloom. Variation is the story for vineyards and their fruit, to the point of irony. Our best blocks historically will have a tough climb during fermentation and barrel aging to raise themselves in my estimation from painstaking sorting of ripe but botrytised fruit. Other blocks not normally my favorites are pristine and primping for the awards ceremony.
Actual yields have adhered closely to estimates, as you can see with all but 8-10 tons of Riesling to bring in. Yields per acre are exactly where we want them to be classically, except for Ridgecrest Pinot gris, which yielded a paltry 1 ton per acre, and Stoller Pinot blanc and 113 Pinot noir, which overshot Allen’s estimates by lots.
How good is this vintage, you might ask. Unwilling normally to answer until we have fruit inside the winery, some answers are brilliantly clear, others need time yet to see what comes from winemaking. Acids are up at a beautiful, cool climate level again and sugars are reasonable, with ripeness achieved but at sugar levels that should yield sub-14% alcohols for the first time in several vintages. Colors are saturated, in general, with rich three-dimensionality of flavors on the palate, and with non-aggressive fine tannin profiles. What has gone to barrel so-far (mainly Stoller) is as good as we’ve ever done. Check back in to see what later fruit, forced to reach ripeness in damper and cooler conditions, realized. Some we know will be great, others we need to see. Patience and confidence.
With dry weather from Friday through Monday, followed by on-and-off rain in the forseeable future, this is a perfect time to finish picking all but the hardy, acid-hard, upper elevation Riesling blocks at Corral Creek and Ridgecrest. Highs remain in the mid to upper sixties. We hope to give remaining two Riesling blocks one to two weeks of hang-time and, just maybe, get some Indian summer golden drying for the botrytis.