From the Ground Up
Harvest is well underway and a couple of weeks earlier than ever before. Our yields in some varieties, like Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio, are unbelieveably low. Both bunch size and berry size are small. This situation is statewide, especially in the coastal regions. Everyone is questioning why. Many things enter into it, like the fact that we had three large crops in a row, an early fall frost, a warm winter, bad weather during flowering, irregular berry set, a lack of winter rains that increases salt accumulation in soils, and no deep soil moisture.
Our Valley View and Goodchild Vineyards were not affected very much, but Los Alamos took a major hit. Our total production will be down about 50%. As a farmer, these are conditions that we don’t like to see or experience. When you make the effort and fail, you wonder what you could have done to make it better. It makes me think of when I was younger and played half-back on the football team. When I had the ball, I always told people that I ran fast because I was running from fear. In farming, it’s kind of the same game. I do expect the 2015 vintage to be a quality one. We will probably be done harvesting by the 10th of October, which is a month early.
2014 Viognier: This vintage follows our breakout into the world of Viognier. Our 2013 vintage won the Double Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the Gold Medal at the Grand Harvest Awards. The 2014 comes from the same vineyard with a slight reduction in residual sugar. Last year was our largest crop and this year was our smallest crop. For a white wine it has some power and is strong in the nose and in flavor. It would make a great cocktail wine.
2012 Cabernet Franc: A favorite with club members and guests of the Tasting Room, but still a tough sell in the marketplace. It was great to see Cheval Blanc when we were in Bordeaux, which is considered to be the best Cabernet Franc in the world. We tried to visit but were told it was a two month waiting list. We were able to visit La Dominique right next door, one of the up and coming greats of the region. They had a marvelous restaurant right in the middle of the vineyards, which is a bit unusual. We must always remember that Cabernet Franc is one of the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon and is a major variety in Bordeaux. Our 2012 Valley View Cabernet Franc has the added influence of new oak barrels, and has the dry leaves character inherent in the variety. Cabernet Franc is too good to be overlooked.
A busy time with harvest - a major wine tasting at the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Festival, a Winemaker Dinner in October at the Valley View Vineyard, our Harvest Party in November, and making good wine from the 2015 grapes.
Back to harvesting...