Friday, October 26, 2012

The Natural Landscape of Harvest

Sunrise on Harvest Morning at Marston Family Vineyard
With all the pomp and circumstance of harvest related activities complete, and the majority of our neighboring vineyards finished, I’m thrilled to report that we have officially begun harvest at our estate on Spring Mountain. On a pristine Friday morning on October 19th, the first blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon were picked at Marston Family Vineyard

Harvest Bins
In what has quickly become routine, or perhaps quirky superstition, I enjoy walking amongst the fruit at dusk the evening prior to harvest and reveling in the efforts of the past growing season. In this day in age it’s particularly rewarding to witness the fruits of our labor, and feel a strong sense of pride in the quality of our grapes. Make no mistake, as important, or critical, as we may think we are to the vines, our abilities are secondary to the mercy of Mother Nature and her natural landscape, and to that end we are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to grow grapes in the beautiful Napa Valley.

Barrel Fermentation
Perhaps it’s become a common misnomer, but “harvest” by no means signals the end; rather, it marks the transition from grape grower to winemaker. Whereas our viticulturist has traded his weather reports from Saint Helena for Lake Tahoe, our winemaker has replaced his golf clubs with a clipboard and calculator. Led by the remarkable Marbue Marke, our cellar team is buckled down and full steam ahead. Our first fruit came from four different hillside terraces on the property, and each block will be fermented separately in oak barrel to complement its character. Each year we employ the use of both oak and stainless steel tanks for fermentation depending on the vineyard location, fruit quality and growing season. Fortunately, 2012 has been a relatively predictable year, and has allowed us to follow our winemaking program with only minor variation.

Cabernet Sauvignon
With roughly 50% of our grapes harvested and undergoing natural fermentation, the balance of our fruit is still hanging in the vineyard. The microclimates and location of the remaining vines combine to make them later ripening sites, and we made the decision to allow the mountain skins to continue to ripen ever so slightly to complete the ideal flavor profile. We did experience light rains that dropped roughly 1.22 inches over a 4 day period, and as expected the fruit held up remarkably well. In fact, walking the rows suggests that the rain actually cleaned up the clusters of any dust and made them shine with their beautiful purple hue. The forecast for the next few days is promising, and we anticipate finishing harvest just in time to don our Halloween costumes and trick or treat our way through the vines that provided us with yet another exceptional vintage.


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