Journal | September 10, 2016
It is becoming evident that 2016 will be a compressed harvest. Typically we start in early September with Sauvignon Blanc and end in mid to even late October with Cabernet and Petit Verdot. This gives us a few breaks along the way as we wait for certain blocks or varieties to ripen. This year we could very well be done by early October. No breaks in between. These breaks are important, they give us time to catch up on cellar work, record keeping and sleep.
Yesterday we quickly picked about half of Avenius Sauvignon Blanc and the remainder of Shari Avenius’ Chardonnay. These were some of the most beautiful grapes I have ever seen. Balance and flavors were classic. So far, older vines (Avenius vines are 21 years old) on cooler sites are producing the best grapes. Throughout the state growers are dealing with ‘stalled ripening’ because of vine heat stress (afternoon temperatures in the mid to upper 90’s F). The cooler high elevation sites at Hardscrabble and Avenius don’t seem to be experiencing this. Unfortunately, Boisseau Chardonnay, which is in the warmer valley, seems to have stalled. Normally we pick Boisseau Chardonnay a week or two before Avenius. This year Boisseau Chardonnay is still on the vine, to be picked on Monday, as the grapes are losing freshness. We can’t depend on the usual ripening sequence in 2016.
We will start with Hardscrabble Chardonnay this coming week. Younger vines are ripe. but the old vines (30 years) taste like they need another week or two. We haven’t been able to do as much berry sampling and lab analysis this year because frankly we are too busy. I’m depending more on taste to ‘triage’ when and what we sample. Shari Avenius does all of Linden’s lab work and has been consumed with harvest at her eponymous vineyard. She’ll have a break after Monday when we pick the rest of her Sauvignon Blanc.