There is a saying in France that when the growing season starts early, harvest will be late, and when it starts late, harvest will be early. This year here in Napa/Sonoma it has certainly come true! It is not yet September, and instead of taking the next two weeks to start to think about bringing fruit in and what kinds of wines we are going to make (should be shepherd them this way or that?) we’ve already brought in grapes from two vineyards, with a third coming in this Friday, September 1st.
It is the earliest harvest on record for us. It started on Saturday August 26th, with Pinot Noir from Gremlin Vineyard in Sonoma. This is our second year working with Steve and Laura Busch on Hyde Road and we’re very exicted to be building a long term program from this vineyard. The maturity and flavor of the grapes surprised us when we took our first sample in the middle of the month, so we pulled the trigger on picking as soon as we could. At 5am on Saturday our whole family was up and by 6 we were all warmly dressed in the vineyard — Audrey and Scarlett performing the difficult tasks of “Chief Grape Tester” — Sean picking leaves from bins and Juliana helping with harvest. By nine that night we had crushed the fruit into our concrete tank.
Today, August 30th our Sauvignon Blanc came in from Rutherford. After whole cluster pressing, the wine will ferment and age in one-third new wood, one-third used, and the rest in stainless steel … these magic proportions are how we fermented and aged our 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, which tastes so amazing even now we are still pouring it in the tasting room to rave reviews.
We are in such a different place this year than last. After the winter rains and cool spring and lazy start to the growing season, the clusters of fruit coming in are heavier, rounder, with better acidity and balance — which is exactly what we were hoping for. While we may ultimately have slightly less concentration in these wines, we will have much better balance and complexity of flavor. It reminds us of wines we tasted from 2005 and 2007, and looks very similar to 2012 — our last big harvest after a wet winter.
The temperature is expected to rise in the next two weeks, with triple digits on thew way. This means it’s all going to be coming in faster than ever! The next vineyard up is Kim Giles Pinot Noir from the San Pablo Bay side of southern Napa Valley.
So much seems to be going on in the world, it’s hard to keep our eyes on the details sometimes, but keeping our elbows buried in the fermenting musts and delicious aromas of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc helps keep us grounded. Our hearts go out to everyone in Texas and Louisiana — we promise to hold on to some of this delicious wine for when you’re ready to toast to the new season. We’ll continue to update you on our progress with Merlot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon as harvest rolls on. We are so excited about what we are doing this year — about the vineyards and growers we are working with — about the new tanks and toys we have in the winery — and some big changes at the winery that we will be telling you more about soon! Stop by anytime for a tour and tasting: to make an appointment, go here. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you might even get the chance to punch down some Pinot!
Juliana & Sean