Posted by Tim Perr
Our 2008 harvest is already underway. Most of our Pinot Noir from Sonoma and Monterey counties (about 27 tons) has been crushed in the last few days and is presently undergoing cold soak—a process whereby the crushed grapes and their juice soak at low temperatures in order to extract flavor and color prior to the beginning of fermentation.
In general, for the vineyards picked—Durell, Gap’s Crown, Thorn Ridge and Boer Family— sugar levels are higher this year than in past harvests, which will result in higher alcohol levels (perhaps 14.5 percent to 15.5 percent) once fermentation is complete. The juice, however, is tasting remarkably concentrated, with fully ripe flavors supported by surprisingly firm tannins and decent acidity.
In addition to Pinot Noir, we brought in our first-ever Zinfandel, from French Camp Vineyard, located east of Paso Robles. The fruit came in at 26 Brix (which is not high for Zinfandel, I am told), but within three days soaked up to almost 29 Brix before we watered it back just a tad. As it ferments, the wine is a beautiful deep red and is throwing off the prettiest floral aromas I think I have smelled at the winery during harvest. Though we have used an alcohol-resistant strain of yeast to ferment the Zinfandel, we are still quite concerned that fermentation will stick given the high potential alcohol of the wine. I’ll keep you posted.
Our first disappointment of harvest came when we found out that the Rhône white fruit that we were expecting would not be forthcoming. We had lined up a vineyard in Monterey to supply us with Marsanne, Rousanne and Viognier for our yet-to-be-named second label. However, our vineyard consultant called on Sunday and said the fruit was already at 28.5 Brix and completely dehydrated. The fruit is way too ripe to make into the lighter style DRY wine we are shooting for. At this point, it looks like we won’t be doing a Rhone white in ’08 unless fate intercedes and we’re offered some great fruit down the road. You never know….
This week, we are bringing in the rest of our Pinot Noir from Sonoma—about 8 tons from Keefer Ranch—and our first Chardonnay of the harvest—about 5 tons from Durell. Barbera, another first for us, should be ready to pick from French Camp Vineyard soon as well. We are still debating on how to handle it once it comes in, but we’ll figure it out. That’s one of the fun things about winemaking and harvest—learning something new.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions