Beginning Harvest September 14th, in 12 days we are now 71% complete compared to projections for the Harvest, with 270 tons harvested and into process. ALL tanks are full. All Chardonnay is harvested and by Sunday all Pinot Gris will be complete too. Pinot noir has a temporary impasse as we await fermentors from first harvested fruit opening up, since most red wine fermentors need to be turned and used a second time.
With luck on our side, the inch of rain and cooling trend of the last 5-6 days has given us a very gentle slide into final ripening at Ridgecrest proper, our highest elevation vineyard where fruit remains unpicked. It still needs a few days to finish building complexity. All but one significant Pinot noir block will be picked during September, All will be complete in the next week.
Another interesting vintage—aren’t they all to some extent? But never done this early!
We have a very strong and experienced crew this year, with stamina required in a year like this gladly showing. We’ll say hello to them in our next Harvest Page.
Weather and Its Implications
Well, this is a third vintage with a very warm growing season—as a matter of fact, this is the warmest we’ve ever had going into Harvest and will likely be the earliest entirely harvested vintage.
- We have had 29 days over 90F this year, with the closest competitor vintage being 2003, the hottest year globally, with 24 over 90F;
- On Sept 22nd, we have accumulated 2463 CDD (cumulative degree days) of heat in 2014, a level even 2003 hadn’t hit until October 20th;
- Thru Sept 26th, we have accumulated 2512 CDD;
- Region 1 Cool Climate goes up to 2500 CDD.
With as warm a year as we’ve seen, normally sugars skyrocket and, later, the alcohols too. However, despite this heat the average brix (% sugar) is 23.7 on 32 lots of grapes, moderate and encouraging for balanced wines. The only major heat effect seems to be slightly lower acids (and therefore higher pHs). Therefore, we are using more than a condiment-sized pinch of tartaric this year to set the environment for fermentation.