Journal | September 26, 2016
Our leisurely harvest pace has come to an end with the forecast of rain. Today begins a stretch of bringing in as much fruit as logistically possible. By the end of the day all the Merlot and Cabernet Franc and some of the Petit Verdot will be in the cooler for crushing on Tuesday. On Wednesday we will make a significant dent in the Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon, but we won’t be able to pick it all by any means. This is where triage comes into place.
The Merlot and Cabernet Franc are super ripe. Its a no brainer that they need to be picked before any significant rain as they are in a condition where rain would highly compromise berry integrity. The hard decisions involve Petit Verdot and especially Cabernet Sauvignon. Petit Verdot at this stage of ripening is fairly fragile. Some blocks have tight clusters in which rot can spread quickly. Other blocks have much looser clusters. Picking strategies will depend on perceived ability of which blocks are able to withstand prolonged rain events. Block quality also plays a role. Our oldest planting (planted in 1991) is relatively small and is always the best candidate for inclusion to Hardscrabble Red, our flagship wine. It takes priority.
Cabernet Sauvignon is relatively rain resistant because of its thick skins and loose clusters. The berries and clusters are in excellent shape right now. Hardscrabble’s youngest planting (three years old) is the only block where I am noticing soft, rot susceptible berries. Young vines ripen a good seven days before old vines. This block will be picked ASAP. Our best quality blocks will be next on the priority list. We should be able to get the critical blocks in by the end of Wednesday. After that we will reevaluate.
Petit Manseng and Vidal are two white grapes that are very rain resistant with thick skins and loose clusters. They will have to wait, and frankly, I’m not too concerned about their ability to withstand the cool rains that are predicted.