It has been a busy week here at Chateau Montelena since the last post. As of yesterday we have processed 160 tons of Napa Valley Chardonnay! If it sounds like a lot, it is (for us). The numbers are pretty revealing – last year (2008) we harvested 162 tons of Chardonnay in a total of 11 days, so far this year we have picked 160 tons in 7 days, and we still have 6 of the 12 blocks let to pick! Now, to be fair, it is not just that yields are high this year (they are), but rather that yields were down last year across the north coast due to unfavorable weather conditions last spring. That’s farming for ya! Good news is that we’ll have plenty of great Chardonnay for sale in 2011, bad news is that we all have bags under our eyes from the long days – and it is just the beginning.
The past week wasn’t without its challenges either. We had a mechanical failure on our whole cluster press, which took it out of service for about 2 days while we were figuring out where to get the parts, which then had to be overnighted from Ohio. On a brighter note, we received our brand new custom built post-destemmer-sorter (otherwise known as a MOG separator - follow this link to see a video of it in action), designed to ensure that only grapes (no raisins or stem chips) make it into the tank or press. It is working well, but required a lot of fine tuning to get it just right – Chardonnay can be kinda tricky since it is a thin skinned grape.
The crew is holding up well and really coming together as a team – the great harvest lunches this year have definitely helped. The photo at top right is our pre-season weigh in – 2260 pounds of grape crushing force – a veritable ton of fun! We’re going to get a post season weight as well, so we’ll see just how good the crush lunches really are.
Our intern Daniel Orrison will have his post ready for tomorrow, so check back then.
BTW - Daniel is third from the left in the front row and I'm in the back with the spectacles.
Until next week, cheers!
Cameron Parry - Winemaker
Chateau Montelena Winery