Journal | Follow the 2019 Harvest | September 24, 2019
The continuation of warm, dry conditions have given us the opportunity to precision pick. Instead of massive hectic harvest days, we have a relaxed approach. All the Merlot and Cabernet Franc have now been harvested. Yesterday we stopped harvesting by 2:00, as it was getting too hot. This is a luxury. More typically we could be trying to beat a forecasted rain and pushing until nightfall.
This vintage we are experiencing the “California conundrum”. Hot, dry weather can make grapes ripen asynchronistically, a fancy academic word for uneven. Juice analysis shows that they are ready to pick: potential alcohols and acids are within good range. But the skins are not yet ripe enough. Their tannins are still a bit rough and the Cabernet still shows a green streak. Tannins ripen linearly, meaning that there is a slow, even progression. Juice ripening is very weather dependent.
Harvest timing is now based on two factors: taste and grape integrity. I now spend a lot of time walking the vineyard and chewing on Cabernet Sauvignon skins. They are uncommonly thick and still slightly astringent rather than silky. The clusters are still holding up well with no rot or degradation, but I sense a certain fragility upon close observation. A big rain at this stage would be a disaster.
The forecast is dry, sunny, and warm for the next ten days. But this is not my first rodeo, and I have been unexpectedly burned in the past. So slowly and methodically we pick and hedge our bets so that we are in a position to pick all remaining grapes in case of a change in the weather.
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