In early October we finished our earliest ever grape harvest, which was due to our unusually warm summer in California. This leads us to wonder whether an early harvest is a good thing or a bad thing for wine. Interestingly, our two previous early harvests occurred in 1997 and 2001, the best two years we have ever had for wine, so this gives us many hopes for this year's wine.
Even though we had an early harvest at JARVIS it was still several weeks later than the harvest in Napa Valley itself. Our vineyards are hillside, 1,000 ft. above the valley, which gives us a cooler climate with better access to the sea breezes and thus the later harvest.
I'm a true believer that great wine is made first of all in the vineyard. That is why we grow all of our own grapes using all the tricks we have learned in the last 19 years. Among other tricks, our 35 acres of vineyards are divided into 15 different picking zones so we can pick each zone just at the optimum time and then we ferment the grapes from each zone separately. This gives us the maximum opportunity for creative blending later on.
We do our picking by hand in 30 lb. picking lugs which are delivered directly to the winery without them ever leaving our property. The hand picked grapes are de- stemmed and crushed within hours of their picking so they get the very minimum amount of oxygen exposure before fermentation.
This is indeed a happy time of year here at the winery and we look forward to sharing it with those of you who will be able to visit our winery this fall.