Higher elevation blocks of fruit and higher acid varieties are all that await picking, so the white press has lain idle until Chardonnay and Riesling are harvested.
Meanwhile, Pinot noir ferments are coddled, with earlier picks such as Stoller taken to dryness, pressing, and barreling down, and later picks such as Ridgecrest primped patiently for extremely long cold-soaks of ten days and one-by-one kicked off into fermentation.
Fermentations have almost exclusively been native this year, not only for Ridgecrest but for Stoller and Corral Creek as well. Relatively clean ferments, with some temperature spiking, Pinot noirs are pulling impressive colors and fruit intensities.
Structural tannins are good, especially on Ridgecrest whole-cluster lots, which have been extended in application this vintage because of nice brown, lignified stems. We even have an 88% whole cluster lot.
The earliest Pinots barreled down, the Wind Ridge Vineyard lots show impressive aromatics and 3-D depths of fruit and color. Expectations are high.
Crop loads of both Pinot noir and whites are short of projections by approximately 15%, even with intentionally heavy crop thinning factored in. As with many short-cropped vintages, quality will be high.
Consumers, critics and winemakers will be pleased.
Accountants and bankers not so pleased.
Crisp, sunny, blue sky, multi-colored foliage days have been with us for most of the last 2 weeks and will remain until the end of this week. The countryside is almost Cezanne in color and intensity.
Vines have begun wholesale yellowing and bronzing, even those Riesling plants that haven’t been harvested as yet. Once grapes are harvested the color change happens quickly on their plants, thanks to chemical messages within the plant. Also, once freezing or close to freezing days come, even those plants with grapes begin to shut down. We now no longer look for photosynthetic activity, waiting for hang-time alone, in conjunction with botrytis on Riesling, to add a bit more complexity.
Rain is expected to return Friday, with Fall and Winter rains not just a possibility, but a certainty from then on.
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