By Bill Brousseau
The most exciting part about winemaking is that there is never any two years alike. It can also become more statistically interesting I’m finding the longer I am in the wine business. At the start of this year with all the rain, I can say I was giddy in that the drought was over and harvest would not come too early.
Now that we have just started the harvest season, my initial prediction of a late harvest has all but vanished. We have had some very warm days this summer paired with dry weather since March. We are looking on track to be about an average harvest date in most sites.
My prediction of bountiful yields was not quite spot on in every site. Given the multi-year drought, some vines were just too tired to produce as many clusters as I had thought. Our younger vines seem to have bounced back quicker from the drought than the older vine sites, which goes to show the dry subsoil was more difficult to recover from in older, deeper rooting vines.
While I was not entirely accurate on the cluster counts, my prediction for healthy cluster weights is coming true, with nice, plump berries. My other premonition is coming true in that with lots of rain comes lots of big berries and propensity for botrytis, aka ‘noble rot.’ While the name sounds innocent, it is in no way that on Pinot noir. Our growers have been actively removing infected clusters on the vine this year as soon as they form as botrytis can spread like wildfire in a vineyard if unchecked, and turn fruit into an unsightly site.
Rest assured though, we have our sorting table belt fully tuned up and eager for some sorting action of botrytis that slips by the vineyard crews. If you notice we are running the sorting table a little bit slower this year, it is to ensure a thorough sort and maximum flavor retention of what remains. We have had to do this in some years and while it strains our labor hours, it is well worth it come blending time.
So, to guess what this year is most similar too….. well, that would be 2011, 2002, 2005, and a little of 2010. All of which turned out to be very nice and high quality vintages for us.
We look forward to sharing with you soon the fruits of our labor.