Ripening, grape sampling and some harvesting begins.
A lesson in site, varietal and vintage variables.
Last year at Cakebread, we were receiving grapes the last week of August, and that was considered a late year. This year it is even later. Different varietal – that King Vineyard Pinot back on September 16, but still almost 3 weeks after Cakebread’s August 26, 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, just to give some perspective on the timelines.
These 3 pictures teach a good lesson on trying to generalize a vintage. Overall vintage ratings can be so misleading. The Silver Oak Cab looks beautiful, while the Zinfandel clusters were shriveled to raisins. The 1st two pictures were taken only 15 minutes apart, just over a mile away on September 08, 2011.
That RRV Zin picture was taken 3 days later. Beautiful looking fruit. Site, rootstock, vineyard management, vintage conditions and luck all make a difference.
For various reasons, the fruit at the end of a row doesn’t ripen as well as the rest of the row. Or, from anywhere in the vineyard you can get what is known as 2nd crop from later budding shoots that are usually a month or so behind the main shoots. You cannot mix these in. They will be bitter, acidic and green. Those 2 pictures were taken 1 minute apart in the same row.
At Scherrer, we harvested most of our Pinot Noir and Chardonnay before the rains, and before botrytis was an issue, yet most of the talk will be about just that – a cool, wet, uneven, rain-shortened harvest in 2011. Whoa…not everywhere! We have some pretty juice already in the barn.
(check back for more on vineyard sampling that actually occurs throughout harvest)