2008 Harvest Update

I woke up this morning to the welcome relief of a cool foggy morning, as it has been blisteringly hot these last two weeks. Temperatures well into the 100s were the norm, and everyone from the UPS guy to the dog was complaining. As a result, we are already 50% done with the 2008 harvest! People often ask me if this quick ripening of the grapes is any better or any worse for wine quality. So, I sat down with winemaker Lisa and asked a few questions while she took a brief moment to catch her breath.


What has been the biggest challenge of the 2008 harvest thus far?

“Everything coming in all at once! The last two weeks of hot weather has led to everything ripening all at once. It's been a real juggling act to schedule picking as everybody wants to pick at the same time. We've had to be very organized and plan way ahead to ensure we're on the picking schedule and that we have adequate tank space, etc. This is also a year where some degree of faith and intuition is part of the picking decision-making process, since scheduling has been such a challenge. I've heard of some winemakers really being caught by surprise. I'm just really glad I have the history I do with our vineyards, otherwise, it would be even harder to make these decisions.”

What came in first, and what do you predict will ripen last?
  "Sauvignon Blanc came in first, just like usual, and we'll pick Cabernet last."
How do you really know when a grape is ripe? Do you ever cheat just to get something picked before the end of the day?
  "Never! The ultimate test is taste, which is why I'm out there tasting our vineyards over and over until we know there are no more unripe or “green” flavors. And, because different sections of a vineyard can ripen differently, it's critical to taste all areas of the vineyard to determine their ripeness. For example, there was a 1-day spread between picking the east and west side of one of our Merlot vineyards this year. Last year that spread was 10 days.”
How do you juggle tank and barrel space?
  “This is one of the hardest parts of harvest, especially in a year like this where everything's happening all at once. We just try to make the smartest choices we can. Creative tank juggling!"
How are overall crop yields compared with last year?
  “That depends on the variety. Chardonnay is down, Sauvignon Blanc yields are bit up, and Zinfandel seems a bit low, but it's hard to say, as we're not done picking. Ditto for Cabernet
What do you predict will be the outcome, quality-wise of the 2008 vintage?
  “That's impossible to say and anyone who tries to predict it at this point is crazy!”
What's the first thing you'll do after we finish this year's crush?
  “Sleep in and maybe see a movie. (But definitely not Bottle Shock!)”
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This page contains a single entry by Kim published on September 9, 2008 4:10 PM.

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