This harvest started the first week of August and ended the second week of October - the earliest start and finish in my 43 years of harvesting grapes in Santa Barbara County. One consolation is that we will have had time to prepare for the Harvest Party. Things should be in great shape to enjoy the festivities.
This crop was less than 50% of normal. It should be a winemaker’s dream with less work, small berries, no rush, empty tanks, empty barrels, and slow days, but it still requires a great effort to see that everything is done properly. Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay took the biggest losses. I expect the red wines to be more intense in color, tannins, and flavors.
We still have a winery almost full of wine thanks to the previous harvest. Interest in our wines from other wineries has been surprisingly high all year. Good wine creates interest.
2012 Sparkling Wine: If I were a club member, I might want this every other month! It’s time to enjoy it again. You might find it to be even a little bit better with the age. Yesterday I attended Joe Knowles’ 75th birthday celebration and it started with our sparkling wine which fit the occasion and the climate of the day. Joe and Penny have a small Viognier vineyard which I have been taking care of since its inception with a little help from Dave Mexico. They are wonderful people. This sparkling is also poured at Grappolo’s, Hadsten House, and The Landsby. It’s made from Los Alamos grapes, 50% Chardonay and 50% Pinot Noir, picked on the same day, which is tough to do, and fermented together. Not many are done this way. It takes two years to make it in the traditional way. This wine goes with everything but mostly with fun!
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cote del Sol: Co-fermentation should be the word of the day. Our Cote del Sol has been made the same way since 2000 with 92% Cabernet and 8% Syrah, picked on the same day from the Valley View Vineyard from only the sunny side of the Cabernet on the 28 rows of the south facing slope. This release follows the 2011, one of our most award winning wines, and it is as good or better. It has the influence of some new oak. I’m always surprised at what 8% Syrah can do to 92% Cabernet, making it bigger, bolder, with better color and a unique, kind of jammy taste. The Syrah is usually very ripe because it is supposed to be picked a few weeks ahead of Cabernet. I like this wine with prime rib, carne asada, and lamb chops.
I’m thankful to the Lord of the Harvest for the small crop. It’s nice to have SOME grapes! I suggest a rain dance and appreciation of friends and family this Thanksgiving season.