Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fresh off the Vine: Harvest News from Martin Estate Winemaker Frederic Delivert

Although he's waist deep in harvest preparations, Winemaker Frederic Delivert took a few early AM moments to go over the “state of the vineyard” at the Rutherford, Napa Valley property.

“I did my first grape sampling of the year last week,” Frederic said, “and we are only two weeks behind last year, which is a good place to be considering the cool weather we’ve had so far. Like 1998, 2010 will be one of the two coolest years to hit the Napa Valley in the past two decades.”

Because Frederic made some early viticultural decisions and took precautionary steps as early in the year as January, veraison has finished throughout the 7.5-acre vineyard, with the exception of a couple of Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 6 blocks (which consistently finish last every year). “We pruned very early in order to achieve an early bud break. We trimmed late, and even though it looks like hell not to have a nicely disked vineyard, our decision not to destroy the cover crop helped us remove extra moisture from the soil,” Frederic says.

“In fact, with the temperature rising into the 100s today,” Frederic continues, “we are doing the very first irrigation of the year. That speaks volumes about how much water was in our soil due to the late spring rains.”

Frederic hopes that this will be one of very few heat waves warming the Napa Valley. He would much prefer to continue the long stretch of mild days all the way into October, rather than have a succession of temperature spikes combined with early rain. But, he has a game plan for either outcome, and he’s exceptionally confident with the quality he sees right now in his Puerta Dorada Vineyard. After all, the r eal adventures in winemaking come from rising to the challenges nature throws before you.

In the winery, things c o ntinue to move slowly. Harvest preparations continue – equipment is being cleaned an d sanitized, and new French oak barrels are coming in. “My goal,” Frederic says, “is to be ready for September 10th. Then, if we have extra time, we’ll jump onto extra aesthetical projects like staining our new Taransaud barrels.”

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