After a hot stretch in late August and the first few days of September caused several varietals to race toward ripeness simultaneously, last week saw more moderate temperatures and a much slower harvest pace than we'd feared. We actually had a few foggy mornings out at the vineyard (unusual for September) and didn't harvest at all on Monday, September 8th. Over the last four days of last week, we brought in just under 20 tons of fruit, including more Viognier (we're now about 70% done with our Viognier harvest) as well as the first twelve tons of Syrah. This Syrah is fermenting in our new upright, 1500-gallon oak fermenters (foreground at right, with stacked foudres looking deceptively small behind and to the left).
In addition to the Syrah and Viognier, we also harvested our entire small-lot productions of Vermentino and Chardonnay. Both were affected by the frosts this spring and came in light in yield, even more so than in 2007. Our Chardonnay yielded just under two tons of fruit off of about two acres. Our Vermentino yielded 2.75 tons, 30% less than in 2007. This will impact our wine club shipments for next year, as neither variety will produce enough wine to include in a shipment. Viognier yields, though, are up. We're already 33% above last year's totals and not yet completed harvesting. We have tentative plans to again make a varietal Viognier.
Overall, we're still of the belief that overall yields will be between the relatively high yields of 2006 and the extremely low yields of 2007. We're estimating about 15,000 cases overall, maybe a little more.
This week, we expect to be harvesting Grenache Blanc, our first Roussanne (for our "Bergeron" program), and more Viognier and Syrah, though nothing too urgently. The weather is forecast to remain moderate through the end of the week, and then to heat up again starting over the weekend.
Finally, I'll leave you with one more photo from last week: blooming sunflowers from the field surrounding our straw-bale barn, which we planted earlier this summer to attract beneficial insects.