Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Last week we reached véraison in our vineyards, which can be one of the most beautiful times of year to look at the clusters on the vines. Véraison is the time of year when the tiny green berries begin to turn color and start to fill up with juice. It is from this point that they officially start to ripen. For the vineyard crew, this is an important time to make sure the grapevines are properly pruned so the fruit is well exposed to sunlight and air. Our vineyard manager Chris Pedemonte says one of the important things to look for when you are walking through the vineyard rows is "speckling". This is when the sunlight breaks through the leaves and hits the ground. It can be a great indication of how the vines are growing and if the grapes are getting too much, or not enough sun exposure. If you see patches that are too shaded on the ground, you know the fruit needs more light. This is also important for things like air movement which can prevent things like mildew, mold, and certain pests.
While we are happy to see that we have reached veraison in most of our vineyard blocks, it has been a challenging year so far for the grapes as a whole. We have had a fairly cool summer out here in Napa, and temperature highs of 75-80 degrees have left the grapes a couple weeks behind in their ripening stages. What this means for us right now is a later harvest than normal, most likely not starting until after Labor Day. We are hoping (begging) for a late Summer heat wave to kick in any time now, and bring us up to speed. So while the rest of the country is experiencing record high temperatures, that is definitely not the case here!
As for a quick update on what's going on in the winery, the cellar crew is hard at work getting the barrel chai ready for the 2010 vintage.
They need to make space for the new wine that will come in, so this year you will see our barrels stacked 4 high instead of 2 high. It's quite a balancing act to see in action, and the crew has to be very careful that everything is level and in line, otherwise it could all topple over with one foul move! In the process of moving all these barrels, the 2009 vintage wine is being racked. This is the process of moving the wine from barrel to tank, cleaning out the barrels and removing any dead yeast sediment that has formed, then refilling the barrels with the wine for further aging. It can be a lengthy job, but it's sure easier moving empty barrels around rather than full ones!
Stay tuned as we get closer to harvest... one of the most exciting times of the year in wine country!