Rain inevitably falls to usher in the winter season here in the Northwest. The question is whether you have everything done when it comes and how many teasing rains come beforehand.
Small amounts of rain do not hurt sound, healthy fruit on mature vines. The closer to ultimate ripeness fruit is, the more delicate and prone to damage with rain. So, the strategy in waiting for both perfect ripening and the rain is to have a good palate for mature flavors, reliable weather forecasts and fast pickers.
In the last 5 days we’ve brought in 120 tons of fruit that had finally gotten to ripeness. The next week depends on how much rain fell last night and how many of the next few days are dry and sunny. I expect our higher elevation blocks, especially at Ridgecrest, to turn the ripeness corner, being 20-25+ years old and therefore robust to slugs of rain and very healthy going into the rain event. We still have top Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and, of course, November-due Riesling to pick, as well as weird little blocks of Pinot Blanc and Gruner Veltliner.
Our Harvest Crew, both in the winery and vineyard, are outstanding this year, with long days and nights not yet affecting a “charge ahead” sort of mentality. I’ll introduce you to new faces next time.
Weather and Its Implications
The weather has held as sunny and dry so far this week, with some fog and clouds at times, but with nice 60-75 degree highs. There is a major flush of rain expected in this weekend, with Sunday the epicenter and Saturday and Monday less severe and certain. Looking at NOAA rain maps, we are in the least-rain sweet spot here in the northern valley and inside the Coast Range rain shadow, so we’re hoping for little impact.
Not being ready to pull fruit in underripe, we are not flinching because of this front. However, not being fools, we are pulling in everything that legitimately is ripe and ready to bring in, so these days are busy and picking proceeds apace.
Interestingly, despite the coolness of the growing season phenological ripening has advanced decently without accumulating sugar, meaning lower alcohols and an old-style vintage—a welcome change to many cool climate wine lovers.
BULLETIN: Since I got pulled away from this Harvest Page to work a day-and-a-half on forklift, we have finally seen the rain front materialize with a decent amount of rain falling over 12-plus hours. We had all our ripe fruit picked and comfortably under roof, so the only question is how what’s hanging still is affected, if at all. And, THE SUN IS OUT at 9am Sunday, blue skies and all, so looks good.