Finally off the road for a while. Jet lag has actually been a bonus. I'm up super early. On my first morning back, I walked through the Merkin West vineyard at sunrise. Wow! I'll say it backward... WoW! Almost brought me to tears.
I barely made it back from the tour in time to harvest the first-ever Merkin Vineyards fruit. Winemaker Eric Glomski (owner of Page Springs Cellars) has been sending me numbers while I've been on the road, and oddly enough, our pH levels are much lower than I'd anticipated. The last test came in right around 3.4. We have very high pH soil and water here, and I just assumed the grapes would follow. Their structure at this point is far more similar to a Bordeaux than a California Cab. Must be the layer of volcanic ash. As Mark at Sam's Wine in Chicago pointed out, "Note to self: Vineyard near volcano equals great wine." We certainly hope so. This valley is littered with volcanic intrusions and was completely covered with volcanic ash when the San Francisco Mountain, north of Flagstaff, blew its top a long time ago, much like Mount St. Helens did in 1980. (If you're curious about the volcanic activity in the Northern Arizona area, you can read more at http://geopubs.wr.usgs.gov/fact-sheet/fs017-01/.)
The weather here has been unseasonably cool. Normally we get 100-plus degree days in August, but we've been hovering around 85. Needless to say, that has slowed the ripening down a bit. Which is good. It's given the fruit a chance to develop more structure.
By the time you read this, we may have picked: Sept. 13 is the big day. Our first-ever vintage of Judith's Cabernet, a.k.a. Nagual del Judith, named after my late mother, whose ashes are spread across this entire east-facing slope. A metaphorical rebirth if you will. A transformation. The phoenix rising from the ashes. Yikes, I'm rambling. No, I'm not drunk. It's the jet lag. Promise.
Look for upcoming photos of the harvest at www.caduceus.org in the Journal section.
Jeffrey Riley — Harrisburg, PA — September 13, 2007 3:21pm ET
Tyler Mcafee — Houston, TX — September 13, 2007 4:30pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — September 18, 2007 8:03pm ET
Kirk R Grant — Ellsworth, ME — September 19, 2007 8:09pm ET
Anna Patterson — Michigan — September 19, 2007 8:28pm ET
Philippe Avila — san diego — April 28, 2008 7:26pm ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions