- Harvest and the fermentation activities went according to plan and on schedule. It seems as if there are so many details to monitor throughout the harvest/processing/fermentation cycle that at times it is a bit overwhelming and results in an occasional omission or two. This year we received considerable help from our wine club members who volunteered to help sort the grapes on the sorting table. With the unexpectedly wet summer in both Napa and Oregon, the level of fruit rot was considerable and the sorting table required lots of help. I am grateful for the folks that showed up to help sort and hope that they had a good time being involved. This year, despite the late harvesting of the fruit, all seems proceeding as expected. The Napa Valley Carneros harvest went very quickly but the fermentation required much longer than expected because of a “stuck” fermentation at the very end of the cycle. This latter required a very labor intensive process of re-inoculation and subsequent “feeding” of the yeast to encourage the final fermentation of those last few grams of sugar. The Napa wine was drained and is now in French oak barrels awaiting the completion of the second fermentation, i.e. malolactic fermentation. I’ll be checking that process over the next few weeks. It is noteworthy that this year we decided not to press the wine but retained only the “free run”, i.e. the best wine that drains naturally after fermentation. We have found that the “press wine” doesn’t taste as good as the “free run” and we have had consistently plenty of wine from the free run to satisfy our needs. Similarly, the Oregon harvest went according to schedule. The Oregon red wines are now either fermenting nicely or headed for malolactic fermentation, and the white wine blend and the rose' are moving along nicely as well. So all seems well as winter approaches and the last few days of fall are winding down.
This week in the Napa Valley vineyard, it is all about hedging and topping of the rapid growth of the vines. The fruit set, the actually development of the grape clusters, appears particularly bountiful this year. The berries are BB-like, uniform, and well formed. And the number of clusters far exceeds last year’s count so I am expecting a better than average harvest. Today was spent spraying one-half of the vineyard with fungicide and topping and hedging the other half. The half that was sprayed had been hedged and topped last week and so was more readily accessible for the spray fungicides. The half that was topped and hedged today had substantial overgrowth of vines and will be sprayed tomorrow. The vines look healthy and productive and I am looking at the possibility of dropping fruit soon while the clusters are still green and well before veraisin in order to maximize the quality of the harvest this year.
The weather has finally become warm in the Napa Valley and we are seeing the bright sunshine that we like to have for good growth and structure in the vines. This weekend, I am going to be topping the shoots with this evil looking French cutter that I have acquired and used regularly. It is attached to the tractor and It gives the vines a nice butch cut and also cuts the side lateral growth as well. I also plan on working the soil in the tractor rows with the elegantly named “clot buster” (also called a ring roller). It is still pretty rough going because of the excess rain this year and the tractor rows need considerable soil conditioning before proceeding with the usual trimming and spraying.