Ripe but with Lower Sugars and Great Acids

Sorry for not ripping one of these Harvest Pages out before now, but to be honest, Harvest 2007 came visiting a bit earlier than expected. We began picking on Monday, September 24th, which is not abnormal for first harvest or second harvest fruit like we have this year from our new Wind Ridge Vineyard, but it didn’t stop there.

This year, because of fewer extremely warm periods during the growing season and cooler nights, we have greater physiological maturity at lower sugars, a condition that excites us, since the wine will show lower alcohol and higher acids. A balanced wine with great acid will be an ager.

But Mother Nature giveth and taketh away. A spurt of rain that can help balance vine chemistries just before final ripening has continued with only occasional drying and no real warming. We are getting satisfied with the concept of almost ripe fruit being better than fuzzy fruit–i.e., botrytised fruit. Flavors are good, the numbers are good and the waves of rain storms from the Alaskan Gulf are convincing.

For that reason, we will likely begin moving from 35% harvested today to 75% or more in the next 4-6 days. Fermentors are being encouraged to finish their first round and make ready for a new spate of fruit.

Fortunately, we opted for a larger winery harvest intern force, and one with credentials as good as we’ve seen, ever. From all corners of the world from Australia to New Zealand to Serbia to the US, it is a tightly knit crew full of vim, vigor and fun. We’ll introduce them in a later Harvest Page. With me hobbling, Mike and Brian are given floor control entirely, glad likely that I’m unable to make their lives dangerous from a forklift seat as in normal years. Daily harvest and fermentation decisions by Mike and me, coupled with reminiscences about the last similar year, 1997, organize the work from a winery table rather than the normal forklift.

So that this actually gets posted, I’ll ship this off into internet land.

Weather Today
“What was it like in the old days?,” some might ask. This is it. This Harvest is as much an old-style vintage as we’ve seen since, say, 1997. The rain has come early, earlier than we wanted in any volume both for inconvenience and for full ripening and potential disease. Everything we have harvested has not been negatively impacted by rain, but we still have 65% of our harvest hanging, so there is a chance of compromised fruit if clearing doesn’t occur relatively soon.

The normal rainfall in September in McMinnville is 1.37 inches. In 2007 they received 2.48 inches in September. Just in the last week (9/26-10/2) 2.62 inches have fallen. Forecasts show minor clearing, but over the next ten days moderate rain continues to the tune of 2-3 more inches.

We trust that it isn’t that intense, but just in case, we are preparing in the next five days to bring in the almost ripe remaining Pinot gris from Corral Creek and Ridgecrest, the remaining Stoller Chardonnay, plus begin bringing in the later ripening, but high quality Ridgecrest Pinot noir, of which there is 70 tons or more.

The growing season was moderate in temperature, some say cool, but in fact out of the last 11 years, 2007 is sixth warmest, or right in the middle of the ranked vintages.