As I write this, summer feels officially here with a warm spell in the 90’s. Prior to this, we experienced many cool days with heavy fog throughout most of summer. Very atypical weather this season with rain nearly every day in February, as well as torrential rain in May during our flowering period. Consequently, this season with the intense spring precipitation, we are seeing very healthy vines yet diminished berry sizes. These conditions lead to the grape phenomena known as ‘hens and chics’. This extreme variance in berry sizing leads to high variability in ripening and fungal pressures. This will require a much closer eye in the fields, culling out any clusters that fall prey to fungal disease. Fortunately, we have experience with these types of seasons, as in 2011 when we overcame the challenges the weather presented us.
Some techniques we utilize when the season is unpredictable are: enhanced grape sorting, adjustments to fermentation temperature and duration, modifications to types of oak and/or the percentages, and lastly early clarification of wines to preserve fruit qualities and delicate tannins. Since veraison, or the onset of ripening, has begun, we are now drafting the game-plans for each batch arriving at the winery so every lot gets its best treatment possible. This is also the time of year where we are finishing up our bottling activities, cellar work, and pre-harvest equipment preparations so everything can go as smoothly as possible. On the bright side to all the increased rainfall and cool weather this season, harvest looks to start about 2 to 3 weeks later, thus giving our team and growers that much more rest time before the fun really begins. Here is to a happy harvest!