Toccata - A Little Bit of Dust from the Dirtman
Seems like we always talk about the weather. It is definitely a major factor in farming. This may become the earliest harvest in my 44 years in Santa Barbara County. The drought is only partly responsible. We are already finishing spraying and will irrigate more but bird netting is already taking place. We have a good chance of picking grapes mid-August instead of the usual mid-September. So things like our late August bottling schedule will now become part of harvest. Megan and the winery have their hands full between trying to get one harvest in the bottle and the next harvest back into the tanks.
Our 2014 vintage crop looks to be the third big sized crop year in a row. With early maturity, it should help us in avoiding late fall weather that might bring moisture. We really need rain...but not at harvest! Our Italian varieties look to be in good condition except for Sangiovese. The fruit set was mixed, so we will probably see improved quality but lowered quantity.
2013 Malvasia Bianca “Secco”: A new wine in the Toccata family in the sense of how it is made. Our regular Malvasia has been very well accepted and just recently won the Gold Medal at Orange County. Why change? We will continue to make our regular semi sweet Malvasia Bianca. “Secco” refers to dryness. What we’ve done here is make a Malvasia with almost no residual sugar, just enough to keep bitterness away if fermented completely dry. This wine should appeal to those of you who are allergic to sweet wines! I always say that some of the greatest wines in the world are sweet but this gives you an opportunity to enjoy one of the most flavorful grapes grown.
2011 Nebbiolo Barbera: Nebbiolo Barbera has become very popular world wide, intentionally made that way in Italy. Of course ours was made by accident several years ago. We were trying to make a Nebbiolo Barbera Rosé when Dan Gehrs and I thought to leave the grapes on the skins overnight to get a little more color. The next day we had red wine! We had to go through the process again. In the meantime, we put our new red wine to the side and discovered later that it was really good and we have continued to make it ever since. It is an interesting match. You take the high tannin, less intensely colored Nebbiolo and blend it with the dark, deep, jammy Barbera for a nice full bodied wine. I think each complements the other in making a more interesting wine. It’s powerful and could go with main entrees like lamb, pork, and spicy meatballs.
Today I am trying to do about 12 days of what I do before I head for a marketing trip to Nashville, TN, Lexington, KY, Cleveland and Wooster, OH, and Saratoga and White Plains, NY. It will include a couple days of play with Jed Steele and a chance to see Jill’s Dad. I will be home in time for an early harvest. We’re always looking for good grape pickers. If you get bored, we’ll put you to work!