Posted by Adam Lee
The 2008 harvest officially ended for us this past weekend. We brought in the last of our fruit—Syrah from the Garys’ and Rosella’s Vineyards. And just to prove that harvest was truly over, I shaved my harvest beard.
Of course, we still have a great deal of work left to do. There are tanks and bins full of juice someplace in mid-ferment. There are barrels that need to be filled. (Unfortunately there are many more that will sit empty this winter as yields were down.) And the winery will need a good cleaning before we host our December Open House. But, for now, I no longer have to worry about what the weather will do to the grapes. In fact, my biggest weather concern is the forecasted rain for Halloween and what that will do to trick-or-treating for my kids.
One thing that was apparent about 2008 fairly early on was that we were never going to get “slammed.” Over the past few days, I have run into several fellow Russian River Valley winemakers, and they all talked about how incredibly overwhelming the rush of grapes was during the first half of September. Because our grape sourcing is so spread out (from Oregon’s Willamette Valley to the Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County) and because our yields were so low (we were down 20 percent from 2007 and 40 percent from 2006), we were never truly inundated with fruit. Combine that with two fantastic winemakers working with us—props out to Ryan and Tim—and a great group of interns and we might even go so far as to say that 2008 was a fairly easy vintage. Only at the very end (right about the time of the California Wine Experience in New York, which I missed for the first time ever) did we get slightly overwhelmed with grapes.
But if the pace of 2008 was fairly simple, the vintage certainly presented its share of challenges in figuring out how to deal with the varying character of the grapes. At this point in time, I am not really certain how to assess the quality of 2008. It sure would be nice to wrap it all up neatly in the “low yields, high quality” mantra that is so often trotted out by winemakers and marketing directors alike. But, I am not certain that fits quite so easily.
As I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, in many ways 2008 was two vintages wrapped up in one. And even within this two-vintage scenario, there was great variation from vineyard to vineyard and even clone to clone. How we combine these parts, which parts we include and exclude, will go a long way to deciding how successful 2008 was for us as a winery. From that point of view, you could say that our work with the 2008 harvest has just begun.
Fred Brown — October 28, 2008 8:46pm ET
Karl Mark — Geneva, IL. — October 28, 2008 10:00pm ET
Al Larson — San Carlos,CA — November 1, 2008 6:25pm ET
Adam Lee — Santa Rosa, CA — November 3, 2008 8:01am ET
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