August is a few days away. Believe it or not, we will be picking grapes probably by the 10th. Our first pick will most likely be Pinot Grigio from Santa Maria which will go to Toccata. Our PInot Grigio crop in Santa Maria is excellent but in Los Alamos, about 1/3 of the crop did not develop. The resulting loss is over 75 tons of fruit. Other Italian varieties that have been affected by poor set are part of the Barbera and almost all of the Malvasia Bianca. Muscat, Sangiovese, and Nebbiolo look very good. The problem could be weather related but it is not due to the drought. We could have used some global warming during the long period of overcast days. I
believe that having three very good sized crops in a row may have taken a little out of the vines, affecting the quality of canes and spurs where they didn’t store enough energy or develop enough maturity to perform. I expect the crop to come in a different order than what we’re used to because of the variation in the volume
of fruit and the size of berries in varieties like Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, and Barbera.
2013 Malvasia Bianca: I’ve been growing this variety for more than 40 years. My first try was for Beringer in the San Joaquin Valley. With the acquisition of the Carrari ranch, we grafted the Semillon to Malvasia. This year, 2015, the Malvasia crop is almost non-existent. I have seen variable crops over the years, but not of this magnitude. Malvasia Bianca has been one of our most award-winning wines over the years. Our previous vintage won the gold at Orange County. I think this one is better, even more fl avorful and more fl oral. The residual sugar is slightly less than in the past. This is not a sweet wine. It is well balanced.
2012 Classico: Our most popular red wine at Toccata. Great quality and priced to be an everyday drinking wine. This is a blend of 40% Sangiovese, 5% Petit Verdot, 20% Cab Sauv, 5% Freisa, 5% Cab Franc, and 25% Merlot. We’ve always made Classico with a dominance of Sangiovese and a splash of Freisa. This time we have
toyed with the Bordeaux grapes. We increased Merlot and reduced Cabernet Sauvignon, making it possible to drink sooner. It is softer, and what I really like, it is smoother. A good wine for any reason, as a cocktail, or with the lamb shanks with red sauce at Santa Ynez Kitchen!
It’s hard to believe that we’re days away from harvest. This is a time where one has to look to the results of past experiences in the vineyard and winery and get ready to make decisions that will create the wines of this vintage. Nothing like being put on the spot! But that’s what it’s all about.