Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's time for the homestretch at Peju

The sacrifices we make in order to create great wine can be heart-wrenching. Take the process of thinning, or dropping fruit. A huge number of clusters were recently cut from our Merlot vines, and I must admit it is sad to see them shriveled up and baking in the dirt. But this is such an important practice because it ups the concentration of flavor in each remaining grape. Timed just a few weeks after veraison, which marks the point when the grapes begin to accumulate more sugar, thinning allows all of the plant’s energy to be channeled into a smaller amount of fruit. So from now until harvest, all of the earthiness from the soil and the ripeness from the sun is distilled, condensed, to make wines that are more powerful and refined.
These vines are pretty young, so even after thinning, the clusters are more than bountiful
On the other side of the winery, the HB Cabernet Sauvignon looks sparse in comparison. This block has seen many more years of thinning so it has a naturally lower yield--and is the source of our magically delicious Rutherford Estate Reserve.

At this point we have also stopped watering, which means the nectar in those grapes will be even more intense. All in all, it’s a rigorous time for the vines and a super exciting time for us as we wait patiently until the optimum time to pick. If the growing season is a marathon, this is about the 22nd mile. Close enough to taste, but the absolute most important part, as that last week or so of ripening will make their journey complete.    

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