Vineyards differ in ripening and in their susceptibility to maladies such as mildew, botrytis, frost and other natural conditions. Site selection is important to keep air flowing and water draining as protection for vines at the beginning and end of the year. Spray programs of helpful organic products and chemicals inhibit growth of molds, as does good physical canopy management such as leaf pulling in fruiting zones and good cane positioning. With all the effort to protect plants, Mother Nature can push the limits to see how assiduously we’ve been paying attention. This year she did not send birds like last year, but she sprinkled botrytis around.

Of the four vineyards we have, this year three are pristine and one achingly prone to botrytis. It means we pull picking ahead of when we’d like to pick, we avoid many clusters on the vine during harvest as a primary sort, then we sort both at the picking bin and on conveyor in the winery as we destem. The last step slows fruit processing to half-speed. And with 62 tons of Pinot noir picked over the last three days, that hurts. We do magical things at the fermentor including extra sulfur, tannin, etc. And, if we’re good, you won’t even know which vineyard had the problem. Only we will, because it won’t be quite as good as it could have been, and we’ll hold that secret.

The other three vineyards will seem like cupcakes, will reward us with perfect ferments and perhaps wines as good as comparable vintages such as 1993, 1999, 2008 and … I’ll let you know if that expectation is realized.


Weather and Its Implications

Beautiful Fall weather, with blanketing fog early morning and sun from mid-morning on, temperatures at frosty 33-40F at night and 50s during the day, and no rain spell a great final ripening period. Rather than packing on sugar, however, it is only hangtime we’re given now. We could ask for nothing more considering today in October 27th. This is good Halloween weather.

The only thing that’s spooking us right now is the spectre of rain the end of next week, Thursday on. Nothing to prompt worry, but an aid to planning the final days of picking for Pinot noir, Pinot gris, Gamay noir and Chardonnay. We will likely wait through that for Riesling, Pinot blanc and Gruner. Tomorrow is supposed to bring a quick burst of showers, but it will be short-lived and of little import.

So far during the entire month of October there have been fewer than 2 inches of rain, with only 0.05 inches in the last two weeks.