From the Ground Up
We’re well into harvest. Over the past 40 years, very seldom have we picked grapes in August. This is the year. Our crop is about three weeks earlier than normal due to the weather, our previous crop, fruit set, berry sizing, and vines wanting to mature early. We have finished picking five varieties and are this week picking Pinot Noir, the variety we have the most of. One of the issues that is making this year a bit different is that some of the varieties are maturing out of their normal sequence. For example, one block of Sauvignon Blanc in Los Alamos had never been picked before the 23rd of September. This year we picked it the last week of August. Yet, I have another block of Sauvignon Blanc that is normal which we will be picking around the 20th of September. Harvest is an exciting time of trying to pick the grapes at the peak of perfection and keeping all those wineries and winemakers that we sell grapes to happy. We are not short of things to do.
2013 Viognier: I continue to have high hopes for this variety . We are growing it in the right places, Los Alamos and Santa Ynez. It still suffers trying to find its own identity which makes it a difficult sell. People who try it like it, and it’s one of our best sellers in our Tasting Room. We have reduced the amount of residual sugar each of the past three years and I think we’ve reached the amount that best suits the variety. At .7 there is a balance with the acidity that gives us a wine that is full but not sweet. When right, you should get a hint of pear. Viognier is a versatile wine in that it’s great with many types of food but it has a high mark with me as a cocktail wine. A couple of days ago we were informed that one of our Viogniers won a double gold medal in San Francisco at the Rhone Shoot-out. This is probably it!
2011 Malbec: This is the Bordeaux wine that makes you think of Argentina...and Evita! One of the fastest growing red wines in sales and not really because of California. Our Malbec can hold its own against the best. When entered in competition, it usually is a medal winner. As our vines mature, our Malbec continues to get better. I have noticed much improvement with bottle age this vintage. I think the fact that the grapes are more intense calls for a little more bottle age. This one drinks well right now. I like Malbec with foods that are on the spicy side which would include barbecue sauce, blackened dishes, or a pepper steak. This one is a real mouthful, smooth and with big soft tannins.
For those that need action, we have an AVA Winemaker Dinner at the Santa Ynez Historical Museum right after the county’s Celebration of Harvest Festival. We’ll be speaking about the Santa Ynez Valley AVA and featuring our Bordeaux varieties.
This year’s Harvest Party will not be competing with the winery for space! We should have a little break between harvest and partying.