Grapes are all crushed
Friday, October 30, 2009
By David Stoneberg
For the Register
There’s general agreement among grape growers that the mid-October rains complicated this year’s harvest, but it was well worth all the work. It seems, too, that rain will define the harvest — e.g., did the fruit come in before the rain or not?
The final harvest reports by American Viticultural Areas (north to south) are as follows:
Calistoga (Pending): Paul Smith, OnThEdge Winery
I know of a block of CF and another of PS bound for the tank by Wednesday. Sadly, I’ve encountered a few blocks likely to remain homeless, one of which seems quite acceptable. Small lots are crushed here or there, though most front-end equipment is given the end-of-crush scrub-down prior to the off-season. Steady, multi-shift pressing is now the main task, with barreling ongoing and continuing for several weeks.
Diamond Mountain District: Dawnine Dyer, Dyer Vineyards
With six good days in the high 70s and a little breeze, this has been a good week for ripening and picking. Sterling’s DMR wrapped up on Sunday and Diamond Creek will finish later this week and that will about take care of it. The rain will define the harvest depending on which side of it you were on, with fruit coming in after the rain with good maturity but slightly lower sugars and definitely requiring more sorting. There is general agreement that it’s been a complicated harvest, but well worth the work.
Howell Mountain: Pat Stotesbery, Ladera Vineyards
Since the end of the rains, it has been non-stop picking almost everywhere. Everyone I talked to is either done or will be done this week. A couple of us have had a challenge juggling tank space as the fruit has been coming faster than the fermentation but it has all worked out.
Chiles Valley District: Volker Eisele, Eisele Vineyards
The weather god is smiling on us. Plenty of sunshine and some wind have dried out the fields. Everybody is picking at high speed to finish this year’s harvest by the end of the week. Cabernet flavors are exceptional. Thanks to good canopies, merlot and syrah have survived the weather without any problem. In the end, it will be an excellent vintage aided by very good vineyard management. Yields are moderate, but in view of the weak market, this is probably not such a bad thing.
Spring Mountain District: Stuart Smith, Smith-Madrone Winery
Most of the wineries are taking advantage of the beautiful warm fall weather to finish harvesting this week, leaving only a very few wineries with grapes hanging as we go into November. Those grapes being harvested are clean and flavorful, with only one report of a tiny amount of mold being detected.
St. Helena: Chris Dearden, general manager/winemaker, Benessere Vineyards
What a sense of humor Mother Nature has! After lulling us into a false sense of cockiness about what a piece of cake this vintage would be, she reminded us that only she controls the weather. Most St. Helena wineries that I have spoken to have reported that all grapes are in the house. Cabernet sauvignon was the predominant grape left prior to the rains and has “weathered” it pretty well.
Rutherford: Jeffrey Stambor, director of winemaking, Beaulieu Vineyards
The beautiful fall conditions during the early part of the week were an ideal time to wrap up the harvest. The growing season was a textbook example to produce fruit of full maturity and intense varietal concentration. The rain we received set up challenging winemaking conditions but the young wines show no ill effects. All in all, a very successful vintage!
Oakville: Pat Garvey, vineyard manager, Flora Springs Winery
We should finish our cabernet harvest this week. The fruit is holding up surprisingly well. We projected our harvest to occur Oct. 17 but we picked 10 days later. Hang time from bloom to harvest was 154 days. Typical is 135-145 days.
Yountville: Tori Wilder, executive director, Yountville Appellation
The earlier-ripening varieties enjoyed a near perfect harvest in Yountville, and all members indicate that they will be done picking everything by week’s end. Some fruit took a beating in this month’s unusual weather, and there were scattered reports of mold, reduced sugar levels and some fruit drop.
Stags Leap District: Elizabeth Vianna, winemaker, Chimney Rock Winery
As I write this report, I am getting ready to weigh our last fruit for the season. It has been a challenging harvest without question. The outlook on quality is good — the dry spring set us up for small berries and great concentration. Most winemakers in the district commented on ripeness occurring at lower sugars this year.
Atlas Peak: Jan Krupp, Stagecoach Vineyards
Harvest is finishing up at a furious pace this week. The rain was a mixed blessing with softer tannins but a minimum of mold to deal with.
Mount Veeder: Brian Nuss, Vinoce Vineyards/Twenty Rows
We are picking all week, should be done with harvest by Saturday. Everyone seems to be happy with the fruit — it has held up great, and the improved weather will be perfect to help us finish up our harvest. We picked the cab franc on Monday then moved on to the cab in the lower vineyard. We will pick the upper vineyard to complete the 2009 harvest.
Oak Knoll District: Jon Ruel, Trefethen Vineyards & Winery
We still have some cabernet out there but these sunny days should provide a nice finish to the season. We are excited about the quality of all the wines we are already moving to barrel. The bonus with the rains is that the cover crop got off to an early start.
Carneros: Lee Hudson, Hudson Vineyards
Nothing like a storm to wrap things up: The storms of Oct. 13 and Oct. 19 caused some difficulties and a lot more work but the vineyards fared remarkably well. Fruit quality for 2009 has been fantastic and it is good to have it all in the barn.
Wild Horse Valley: John Newmeyer, Heron Lake Vineyard
Autumn is fully under way, fermentation is done, the new wine is safely in the barrels for the winter, our reservoirs have risen an unprecedented (for October) two feet, and our hills are green.
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