We expected a later Harvest this year, but Mother Nature gave us moisture rather than sun to dictate picking times. We anticipate blessedly lower sugars and alcohols by less heat driving things, with flavor development being the key to a good versus great vintage. So far, so good.
With flavors and physiological development advancing at our highest elevation and oldest vineyard, Ridgecrest, we began harvest there on Friday, trying to avoid botrytis on very important, high-quality vineyard blocks. At this stage we feel like dance choreographers more than technical winemakers, since we’re having to push earlier ferments to completion to open up tanks for reuse by the Ridgecrest fruit. The dance seems to be working, the music good and the partner sweet and interesting.
A variety of sites shows its worth in years like this, whether you’re looking for fully mature fruit from warmer sites, sound and austere fruit from higher elevations, or a range of flavors from different soils. In order to experiment with fulfilling demand for INOX, our stainless steel tank fermented Dijon Chardonnay, we have contracted for extra fruit from good sites in the valley (our only exception to being Estate Bottled). This almost automatically gives us a bracketing of flavors, acid levels, and ripeness. How these are selected, chosen for harvest timing, and blended is the winemaker’s art, but the constituent fruit is all grower and Mother Nature. We foresee complexity and great interest in 2007 INOX.
- Our Harvest Interns are an especially strong class in 2007:
- Dom Maxwell, the Winemaker at Greystone winery in Waipara, New Zealand, brings not just practical and detailed experience, but a great, positive attitude. He also by himself raises the average height of all of us by a couple inches.
- Gilli Lipscombe, bright and hard-working, also from down-under in Australia’s Margaret River area, who, along with her husband Paul who is helping at Beaux Freres this Harvest, aspires to planting grapes and making wine possibly in Tasmania.
- Kristen Zeiger, a smart, sassy recent graduate in Biology from U of North Carolina, who comes to us from the retail wine shop side of the business and is also recently engaged to a Southerner-turned-Brit. Kristen came in early and helped in racking and bottling prior to harvest, rooming with Priscilla and seemingly becoming the daughter Priscilla never had.
- Kristine Hodsdon heads up our harvest laboratory work, having spent valuable time after graduating from UC-Davis in Biology, traveling to wine jobs in Napa, New Zealand, Spain and most recently McLaren Vale, Australia. Energetic, always smiling, she epitomizes the sharp, but laid back approach of the next generation of world-savvy winemakers.
- Ksenija Kostic is a Molecular Biologist just graduated and most recently working in citrus research laboratory work in Florida, where she lives with her husband, who is the marketing rep for our FL distributor in Orlando. Intrigued by the possibility of growing grapes and making wine in her native Serbia, from which she immigrated seven years ago, she is like a sponge and, like the rest of the crew, works very hard with a positive, inquisitive spirit.
- Michael Newsome has knowledge about everything from wine to music to mechanical teardowns to cooking, i.e., is a renaissance/handyman cross, which is what you’d expect from a Fine Arts major who’s last job was as Wine Director at George’s at the Cove in La Jolla, California. He’s relocated to Oregon and is bowed and scraped to by those staying at the Chehalem House as the provider of gourmet cuisine and good humor.
With a crew like this, this can’t help but be a great vintage.