We’re finally into normal timing for picking some of our vineyard blocks. Unlike the hot year early-pick mode we were in three weeks ago, the hiatus that the rain event and cooler days gave upper elevation vineyards, puts us now into first-half of October harvest for our Ribbon Ridge fruit. Perfect. Fine flavors from hang-time, no disease pressure from botrytis, no real bird fly-ins, and so expect the best.
We are bringing in the 5 Acre and 7 Acre blocks from Ridgecrest as I write, these being the oldest blocks we have and the oldest on Ribbon Ridge AVA (we planted them beginning in 1982). A bi-modal picking is not normal, although an extended harvest stretching the distribution over a month is not uncommon. Efficient use of fermentors and other equipment is a plus as is a less chaotic activity pattern, but a weary harvest crew, both in the vineyard and winery is what we pay for it.
The vineyard crew that farms the vineyards under Chad Douglas’ guidance carefully picks all the vineyard blocks, working hard to pick fruit at the perfect time, but without assistance from contract crews. That means more than a week of a ton-and-a-half per person per day—usually 10 hour days. The winery crew of interns and the winemaking team of Wynne, Katie and Greg likewise take the baton and continuously process grapes from 7am until some nights at 11pm.
We anticipate being completely out of the vineyard by Saturday of this week. And the late perfect timing, making perfect long hangtime fruit, will give us some excellent wines—but then again, I’m promising before I see the finished ferments. I’ll check back in later to confirm my suspicions.
Weather and Its Implications
Normal early October weather is dominant now, meaning highs in the 60s and lower 70s, sun (see the slide show for normal days), and no rain (0.05 inches rain in the last 5 days). Hang-time is great for later harvested sites, giving rich, ripe flavors as we begin to pick vineyards such as Ridgecrest and Wind Ridge on Ribbon Ridge.