This is round number 45 in the saga of growing grapes in Santa Barbara County! One last remark about last year’s vintage is that it should be exceptional. Our harvest was early and we were able to pick all grapes at optimum levels without any interference by Mother Nature.
The harvest and harvest party are over. I guess it’s time to be looking forward to my 45th year of growing grapes in Santa Barbara County. It seems like just yesterday that this adventure began. I can’t let this past harvest go unnoticed, for it’s now three years in a row that we’ve had ideal growing conditions.
Harvest is over. Even the Harvest Party is over. It seems that everything we’ve done this year has been early. That’s not a problem. When we harvest early, we eliminate a lot of issues like rain or frost or a stretched out picking season. Fast and furious was what took place. This vintage has the potential for greatness.
About four days of harvest to go! We have about 100 tons to pick, mostly Cabernet, Nebbiolo, Petit Verdot, and our small lot of Freisa. This will be one of the earliest harvests I have experienced in the last 44 years for a variety of reasons, none of which are bad. Our Harvest Party is planned to be right after harvest but this year, it will be four weeks later, which is also ok. We have a great deal of time to get things ready for all of you attending.
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.
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 grapevines are on the fast track. We’re about four weeks ahead of schedule so we’re starting shoot removal, hedging, leaf removal, and spraying for mildew control. Irrigation is on our minds this year. We will make it but we do have a water crisis and we really need rains this coming winter. Supplies are low and wells are producing less.
As always, I blame Mother Nature! A very short winter followed by a warm spring puts us about three weeks ahead of schedule. Most of the varieties look very good. Unusual heat hurt the fruit set in some of our Sangiovese and Syrah, but overall I am very pleased at this point. Harvest in 80 days.
We have had a different kind of a winter with not much of anything in the way of frost, rain, or cold. Our vines look great. Our water supply so far is holding steady, and it looks like we’re going to have an early harvest.
Last year’s 2013 vintage looks to be one of the better vintages. The wines are showing much promise. It always helps to have perfect growing and weather conditions during harvest. Varieties like Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Sangiovese, which cannot tolerate wet weather, were picked at optimal levels thanks to the beautiful fall. Next year we will get our first chance to visit this vintage.