Can you believe the year is half gone already? August is here and we are within five weeks of harvest. The vineyards are starting to show signs of maturity. The green leaves aren’t quite green anymore but have faded to yellow-green, and the canes are turning light yellow and will eventually be coffee in color.
The crop looks to be normal, which means it varies by variety. The cold weather that we had during bloom has made some berry sizes smaller which, in reds, can give you wine of more intensity. We are making a final pass through the vineyard, making sure the bunches have air and light, but are not so exposed that they burn in the sunlight. The final mildew sprays are over and veraison, the softening and beginning of color, is taking place. And lastly, the birds are circling the vineyard! We are now four to five weeks from harvest, starting first with our sparkling wines.
2020 Pinot Grigio: For the past few vintages, we have been using only grapes from our vineyard in Santa Maria where it is a little cooler, adding a little more character to the wine. The better Pinot Grigios are grown in cooler locations and Los Alamos and the Santa Maria Valley are ideal to grow this variety. The cool region enables us to have a little more acidity and lower pH, adding crispness and sharpness in flavors to a wine that might otherwise be soft and flat.
2019 Sangiovese: Of the California Italian wines, Sangiovese is the variety that gets the most recognition and acceptance. It is taking us longer than I thought it would to get people to become familiar with Italian varieties. Sangiovese is easy to drink. We make ours a 100% Sangiovese on purpose because Sangiovese is also a great blending wine, which you will see when we discuss the Riserva. At 100% Sangiovese, you have the opportunity to see the variety for what it is, one of the few Italian wines that could be served as a cocktail wine, and yet be outstanding with an Italian dinner. Last year, I planted four additional acres and grafted another three acres to Sangiovese. Our needs have grown along with those who purchase Sangiovese grapes from us. This one gives you the opportunity to really experience the variety.
2019 Toccata Riserva: We just talked about Sangiovese being a great blending wine. 40 years ago, the Italians, led by the Antinori family, created a new class of wine, the Super Tuscan, a blend of Sangiovese with Bordeaux red varieties. This Riserva is our answer. Bordeaux varieties are very structured and Sangiovese has the ability to smooth the edges and soften the boldness of the elite Bordeaux grapes. Our Riserva is a blend of about 2/3 Valley View Cabernet with about 1/3 Los Alamos Sangiovese. The ground rules are very loose. The Riserva has been the highest scoring wine in our Toccata brand, continuing to score in the nineties year after year. The Valley View Cabernet contains some of our “Clone 6” Cabernet , which produces rare and outstanding wines. Most people are afraid to grow it. This one is good today and will be good five years from now. It is worth putting away. You need a case. Drink half now and half later.
This year’s Vineyard Tour is on September 10th, a little later than what we have done in the past, giving you a chance to see the grapes at a more mature level, maybe even do a little grape tasting! It will be harvest time.