Journal | Follow the 2019 Harvest | September 26, 2019
The 2019 harvest has been relaxed and evenly paced. Until now. Continued dry, warm conditions have quickly spiked ripening in Cabernet Sauvignon. Seemingly overnight the grapes transitioned from “almost ready” to “pick now!” Young vines, whose roots are not as deep and unable to find moisture in the subsoil, started to show signs of water stress. This is the first time I have witnessed berry shriveling. We picked these vines yesterday.
We are now in the midst of a “hurricane pick.” Except there is no hurricane. This refers to a situation where we need to call in lots of grapes all at one time. Usually this is because a hurricane threat is imminent. Our current threat is one of potential over-ripeness. This is a rare occurrence in Virginia.
Over the last few days we have been tasting Bordeaux and Linden wines from past hot, dry vintages in order to reference stylist decisions. The three takeaways are that picking on the early side retains more freshness, over-extraction of tannins can lead to burly, difficult wines, and too many new barrels can overwhelm the fruit.
This year we are experiencing red grapes with high potential alcohols and thick skins. This is a scenario where winemakers are able to produce monster wines that garner awards and critical praise. However, our goal is balance and restraint, which in a perverse way makes this a challenging vintage.
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