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September 2007
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November 2007

End of 2007 Harvest!

With the completion of the "Mount Mourvedre" block behind the winery, we're officially done with the 2007 harvest.  Like each year, it's had its own challenges, this time at 65 days the longest extent between the beginning of harvest (August 27th) and the end of harvest (October 31st) that we've ever seen.  (By contrast, in 2006, harvest lasted 50 days.)

Our yields were down; the 252 tons of fruit that we brought in is down 20% from the 315 tons we saw in 2006 (or the 319 tons we saw in 2005).  At our normal conversion rates, we're looking at between 14,000 and 15,000 cases of wine in 2007.  Our field crew, led by Vineyard Manager David Maduena (center, with dark jacket and tan baseball cap) poses behind the last bin of Mourvedre:


The quality of the fruit looks tremendous.  Berry sizes are small, but skins are thick and we're seeing tremendous color extraction early in fermentation.  I hope that the California wine press recognizes that this year may be excellent for Paso Robles even though the early rain has been problematic in Napa and Sonoma.

Finally, I leave you with a good example of why you should be cautious leaving the winery camera in the hands of the winemakers.  Here's a shot they took of the last Mourvedre cluster of harvest, poised on the edge of the destemmer machine looking terrified.  Winery sense of humor...


October 2007 Vineyard Photo Album

I had a little free time yesterday, and spent an hour or so wandering around the property and taking some photos.  I've organized them into my first attempt at a Typepad Photo Album, available at the left and as "Vineyard Photos - October 2007".  A few of my favorites from the album are below. First, a view looking up the old Syrah plantings that just screams autumn:


Next, a close-up of a ripe Counoise cluster:


And finally a quintessentially Paso Robles shot looking up toward the two big oak trees at the highest point on our property:


You can view the complete photo album by clicking here.  Any comments are welcome!

Grenache Harvest Photos

As we'd hoped, the rain from the end of last week was followed by cool, sunny and breezy weather, and the half-inch of rain that we got didn't have any negative impact on the hanging fruit.  This week, we're bringing in the rest of the Grenache and getting a start on the Mourvedre.  The crystal clear, sunny morning yesterday allowed for some nice photos.  First, Grenache in a picking bin, waiting for destemming.  Note the very slight deflation of some of the berries, an important physiological sign that the fruit is ripe:


Next, a great shot of Neil Collins and Ryan Hebert (our Winemaker and Assistant Winemaker) pushing Grenache clusters through the destemming machine.  I love how this photo expresses the constant motion of harvest:


Finally, a nice semi-panoramic shot of Mourvedre hanging on the vines behind the winery (at the bottom of the hill we call "Mount Mourvedre") with the incredibly deep blue Paso Robles sky behind them.  Like all the photos on the site, click on the photo for a full-size rendition:


Harvest rain in Paso Robles

After several big harvest days this week (mostly Grenache, as well as the rest of the Syrah and the beginnings of the Mourvedre) we're taking a break for the first significant rain of the year to pass through.  As of Friday afternoon, we'd already received about 0.4" at the vineyard and it shows no signs of stopping.  A look out south from the winery this afternoon, with the wind whipping the olive trees and the clouds obscuring the ridgetops just a few hundred feet overhead:


The forecast for the weekend is good (sunny and warmer) and, as always the key is what it's like after the rain.  If the weather is dry and breezy, a moderate amount of rain is not a problem even during harvest.  It's when it stays still and humid that you worry.

And, of course, when the choice is to bring in fruit that you know isn't ripe, or to wait in the hope that the weather turns back around and you get it ripe later, you realize that you really don't have much choice.  So, fingers crossed.  At least we aren't getting the downpours that the North Coast (and even Monterey County) are forecast for over the next few days.

For those keeping track: we are approximately 60% through with harvest, and it looks like overall quality has been very high, with yields down an average of about 20%.

Sharing the blending experience

At Tablas Creek, we're always looking for ways to demystify the world of wine.  One tactic that we've found to be a great combination of interesting, enlightening, and portable is the traveling blending seminar.  We've been conducting blending seminars here at the vineyard for years.  And, last year I decided to bottle up and bring with me samples of the individual red components of the 2005 vintage on the road and allow our distributors' salespeople to share in the experience. 

This year, we decided to open the experience up to trade and media in selected cities, and held seminars in Charleston, Chicago, Seattle and San Diego.  Just this week, Sterling Pratt, Wine Director at Schaefer's in Skokie, IL (just north of Chicago) wrote a funny, interesting article for the Pioneer Local describing his experience.

If you're in the trade, and have a related experience, or would be interested in attending a similar event, let us know by posting a comment!

Harvest, Week of September 24th

The weather in Paso Robles warmed up last week, and we started harvesting in earnest.  We've brought in most of our Syrah, the first big chunk of Grenache, and are finishing up Grenache Blanc.  Viognier and Marsanne are in.  I'd estimate that last week, we brought in between 10% and 15% of our annual harvest, mostly Grenache and Syrah.  Happily, it looks like the production of our reds is not off nearly as much as our whites.  We're now estimating white yields down about 30%, but red yields down just 5% to 10%.  A photo from our front entrance, looking at the newly-harvested Syrah "C" vines:


This week, we're looking at more of the same weather, sunny and days in the 80s, with nights in the low 40s.  We're expecting most of our Grenache and our first significant blocks of Roussanne.

In the cellar, we're starting the assembly of our Rose by bleeding off some of our Grenache.  We've decided to make the Grenache component just a little bit lighter this year.  Each year, our Rose has gotten a little darker, and we feel it's time to back off just a little.  Below are two photos from the saignee of Grenache: on the left draining the juice from a tank harvested yesterday, and on the right spraying the juice into a new tank to ferment as rose.