Finally Beginning Serious Harvesting.
This has been a year of starts and stops. Beginning with a winter that had two months of record dryness, vines were awakened early in 2005, buds swelling and getting ready to go. A cool, wet Spring then ensued, saturating bone dry soils but stopping an early budbreak in its tracks. Bloom happened in moist and cool conditions, over several weeks in mid to late June, even into July-starting late and showing variable berry sizes and maturity.
The growing season has been fine since then, with moderate heat (not extreme as in 2003 and 2004)- see the heat accumulations graph (graph opens in a separate browser window). September highs at Stoller Vineyards averaged 75.3F, 88F being the highest temperature reached. September lows were largely in the forties, averaging 49.2F, assuring acidities were retained, a good thing. The end of warm weeks came with 1.6 inches of rain September 30 through October 2nd and highs in the low sixties.
Coming to an end now, with projections of dry, ripening days ahead, we are beginning to pick grapes seriously. By this date last year, we had already picked over 205 tons of fruit or 82% of the total cropload, beginning September 12th. So far, we have only picked 11% of forecast tonnage.
As with most intitial rain at harvest, it has been helpful in adjusting chemistries in the fruit, with pHs and acidity rising and lowering, respectively. It has also split tiny, seedless berries and made exceptional pockets that saw a little mildew earlier in the year (a very high pressure year for fungal disease) ugly, so it is not all good. With weather predictions coming true, we would expect gentle final ripening and full harvest over the next two weeks.
More late, as we have prime Stoller Pinot noir blocks continuing to be harvested today and the Dijon 115 harvested yesterday and chilled overnight going to fermentor.
Finally off and rolling!