Posted by Brian Loring
Every year presents its own unique set of challenges. Whether it’s heat spells, rain or frost, it’s always something. This year we’ve seen it all. Starting with one of the worst frosts in California in decades, to the crazy heat spell we saw at the end of August, to the potential for some nasty rain in Oregon, 2008 maybe be one of the weirdest vintages in recent memory.
The early frost caused a fair amount of second crop in many vineyards. In most cases, this resulted in some vines having clusters that were 2 or 3 weeks behind in ripening. While it took some extra work in the vineyard and at the winery, these clusters were pretty easily avoided or sorted out. But there was another type of frost damage that we saw—ripe clusters that have one or two unripe, green berries. At least my buddy Peter Cargasacchi, who farms two vineyards in Santa Rita Hills, thinks it was due to frost damage. And this phenomenon wasn’t isolated to one vineyard, or even one AVA. We saw it all over California, and have heard reports of it in Oregon as well (including from fellow blogger Josh Bergström).
As we were taking fruit samples at vineyards, we started to notice a fair number of ripening clusters that had a few green, or sometimes pink, berries. We weren’t sure what to do about them. Our normal response would have been to toss out those clusters, but in some cases we were seeing about 15 percent of the crop affected. That’s way too much fruit to lose over a couple of green berries. And while the amount may not have been very significant to the taste of the final wine, it seemed like we needed to do something about the unripe berries. At least we needed to be sure that they weren’t a sign of a general ripening issue with the entire cluster.
As with most vineyard questions, we turned to our good friend Peter Cargasacchi for answers. We went out to his Cargasacchi Vineyard and shot the following video.
Peter didn’t have a lot of these type of clusters in his vineyard, but he did have a few areas where we found some. Note that the clusters we picked to demonstrate the issue are extreme examples. It was easier to see in the extreme cases. And Peter (being Peter) tossed in some humor along with his more serious information.
J J Gallagher — Near Napa, Ca — September 30, 2008 9:47pm ET
Brian Loring — Lompoc, CA — October 1, 2008 4:51pm ET
J J Gallagher — Near Napa, Ca — October 1, 2008 9:01pm ET
Jeremy Seysses — October 8, 2008 3:20am ET
Peter Cargasacchi — Sta. Rita Hills — October 9, 2008 7:47pm ET
Jeremy Seysses — October 11, 2008 4:19pm ET
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