Harvest Notes from the 2003 Vintage
Here are some harvest procedures that we hope will lead to a great 2003 wine.
Green Grape Harvest
The first facet of our harvesting is the Green Grape Harvest; here is where the greenest grapes , about ten percent of the total crop are just thrown on the ground. We do this about six weeks before our regular harvest, for two reasons.
Six weeks before harvest we can recognize which are the least ripe berries and eliminate these so that our eventually harvested grapes will be more uniform ripeness. Even a small percentage of less ripe grapes detracts from the taste of the wine. (Some researchers say the less ripe grapes impede the polymerization of the tannins and thus leave a rough taste.) Also, by this time, 6 weeks before harvest, the vine will have accommodated to the larger than final cropping by having small size berries. The small size berries have a higher ratio of skin to total grape mass, hence, lead to more flavor and more color, both flavor and color being totally derived from the skins. I have heard of other vineyards that thin their grapes but I don’t know anyone else that does it with the precision that we do. This is one of the advantages of being a smaller winery with its own estate grown grapes.
Picking by Small Zones
We have all heard stories about terroir, how grapes differ so much from one tiny region to another; we find that to be so true in our vineyards. In order to get the optimum ripening of each zone which is so critical to our final wine product we pick from very small zones. In fact our picking zones only average 1 ½ acres per zone. It would not be unusual for larger vineyards to pick 25 to 50 times many acres at a time.
Hand Picking into Small Lugs
The same ladies of the vineyard who do the green grape harvest; plus a lot of men do our final harvest, picking into small 25 pound lugs. The advantage of hand picking over machine picking is that the skin of the grapes are not broken during hand picking and the juice does not get exposed to oxygen which as a general rule is the enemy of a fine wine. A small size lug also helps in that the weight of the grapes does not crush so much the grapes on the bottom. Incidentally these lugs do not have holes in the bottom as in Bordeaux. We hardly ever have to pick in the rain.