Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wow…what a rain storm!

We knew that we had a chance of rain for Tuesday, so we started to wrap up the picking of Chardonnay last week. We had been holding out for that last little bit of flavor development and on Saturday, finished the Chardonnay pick at Wood Ranch in Rutherford. On Monday we brought in Syrah from the Mt. Veeder district and finished the Merlot from Atlas Peak as well as Howell Mtn districts. We have a little bit of Petit Verdot left on Wood Ranch as well as the Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m not worried about the Cabernet Sauvignon because it has loose clusters and thick skin, which helps protect it from bunch rot. However, the Petit Verdot has a tight cluster, and I think we should pick it as soon as we can get in there. We have a little Mt. Veeder Zinfandel, which should probably come in as well. So what am I not worried about and hope that it succumbs to bunch rot…..WHITE RIESLING!

Freemark Abbey makes a late harvest Riesling called Edelwein (noble wine) Gold. Imagine you are the winemaker. You are diligently walking the White Riesling vineyard, taking samples and appraising the degree of ripeness. You have been observing the vineyard for weeks, watching the green hard berries turn to yellowish green, softening to the touch and developing the ever so pleasant spicy, fruity Riesling flavors. The degree of sugar is around 21.5 degrees brix ready to pick and then, we get a dousing rain storm, leaving everything soaked, including the soil. This scenario happened yesterday. We had a relatively warm rain that is going to be followed by a few days of warming weather, creating the perfect conditions for the parasitic mold botrytis cinerea to grow on the berries. This is the “Noble Rot” or Edelfaule of German fame. After a week of warm weather, following the rain, we will probably observe that the greenish golden berries are turning purple and slightly brownish purple. While this can be a disaster with most wine grapes, often called “bunch rot”, we know that we can make our famed dessert wine “Edelwein Gold”. With a dose of patience, we will let the grapes stay out there longer.

I’ll be walking this vineyard diligently over the next few weeks, to see if the botrytis grows.

Stay tuned…

No comments: