Journal | October 3, 2017
A Winegrowers Balance
Yesterday we harvested all the Hardscrabble Petit Verdot and two blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon. We will crush them this morning and then in the afternoon we will pick our steep slope Cabernet. Tomorrow will be a very big day where I am hoping to bring in all the rest of the reds both at Avenius and Hardscrabble. The picking has been going quickly due to the perfect weather (cool and sunny) and the fact that yields are down, so there is not as many clusters to pick.
With the recent cooler weather the vines seem to have “refreshed” themselves and the berries seem less stressed than last week. Having said that, we are still seeing some dimpling (golfball-like) in some berries. It will warm up towards the end of the week, so we are going to push to get everything in by tomorrow. Typically it is rain that I worry about. This vintage it is water stress. The vines look a bit weary, especially on the less water retentive soils. More northerly facing slopes are looking better than the blocks facing south (we picked the south slopes yesterday). In 38 vintages I have never seen this. I feel like we are having California issues.
Our fermentation/extraction strategies will change accordingly. What we have coming in is high potential alcohol, highish acid, good skin tannins, but somewhat under-ripe seeds. Extraction will be front ended, meaning some warmer temperatures early with a fair amount of movement (pump-overs and punch downs), but we will shorten up the cuvaison (amount of time the wine soaks on the skins and seeds). The stressed vines have produced fruit with low yeast nutrients, so we will have to monitor fermentations carefully to make sure we don’t have any unfermented sugars at the end. If all goes well these could be the classic “iron fist in a velvet glove” wines.