Friday, September 11, 2009

ZD Wines Anticipating Harvest

Bright and early this morning the ZD Tasting Room troops met up with Chris Pisani, our Winemaker, and Rafael Llamas, our Vineyard Manager, for a taste of life in the vineyards pre-Harvest. There has been a lot of waiting and watching taking place at the winery these days as we anticipate the Harvest crush and, today, the Tasting Room staff was granted a behind the scenes look at what this waiting entails.

Pulling into the deLeuze Family Vineyards from the Carneros Highway, you are greeted by a charming old house surrounded by vineyards for as far as the eye can see. A small chicken coop near the back door filled with peeping chicks is a welcome reminder that you’ve arrived someplace special and seemingly untouched by the buzz and hum of Napa Valley, the destination. You are immediately transported back to the agricultural roots that make this location so unique.

Walking over to the vines you can see chickens in a range of colors scampering about and snacking happily on vine-loving insects. They are one faction of ZD’s sustainable farming techniques designed to harmoniously marry the art of winemaking with healthy vines and soil. Gazing at the chickens stand Rafael and Chris who are ready to lead the group through the vineyards for a closer look at the grapes that make up our wines.

First up is Chardonnay. The grapes are developing beautifully and we are anticipating Harvest in the coming week or two. Sampling some of the grapes was such a treat and we all found ourselves steeling quick nibbles of the sweet grapes, warmed and mellowed by the morning sun.

The Pinot Noir grapes are planted furthest from our starting position and, as we meandered over, the deep purple fruit looked picturesque hanging in small clusters along the vines. Chris trimmed a bunch of the Hanzel-selection grapes for the group to try. The tightly bunched clusters of smallish grapes are a point of pride for Chris and the winemaking team. The sparsely irrigated vines result in low-yielding, intensely flavored grapes ideal for our Pinot Noir.

Using a Pressure Bomb to test the stress-level of the vines (I’m hoping to try the Pressure Bomb on myself later today), we were able to witness the small droplets of liquid eked out of the tested vine, revealing how the surrounding environment has affected the plant. The Pressure Bomb measures the amount of pressure that exists in the vine between the roots and the tips and is used to evaluate how much need the plant has for water or how well it has adapted to its environment. The results? The vines are in peak condition for harvest.

Bringing samples back to the winery, Chris will test the brix and ph levels in the grapes to further forecast our Harvest date. In the meantime, the cellar is sparkling as the Winemaking Crew has scrubbed, sprayed, cleaned and prepped in anticipation of the first truckload of grapes. Hopefully we will have some more harvest news to report in the coming days! Stay tuned.

ZD Wines

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