50-Mile Dinner with Cass House Inn & Restaurant
Terroir, Then and Now

Harvest, Weeks of September 22nd and 29th

After what seemed like weeks of waiting, all of a sudden most of the vineyard is ready to pick.  Last week, we focused on whites and picked the rest of the Viognier, most of the rest of the Grenache Blanc, and the Picpoul Blanc (we also picked the first of the Grenache Noir, from our "American vine" block that we planted in 1994).  The total harvested for the week was just over 20 tons.

This week, we've switched our focus to reds and accelerated the pace of harvest with some rain threatening for this weekend.  When all is said and done, we will have harvested over 35 tons this week, including most of the rest of our Syrah, a good chunk more Grenache, our first Mourvedre and Counoise, and even some later-ripening whites: our first Marsanne and Roussanne for our Roussanne "Bergeron" program.  A few photos give you a great sense of what ripe Grenache looks like.  Note the relatively light color, even when ripe, and the fairly large, loose berries of Grenache clusters in a picking bin:


Below, from another angle, you can see the half-ton picking bins we use stacked on the right in the background.  You can also see the somewhat overcast day today. We're forecast for some rain showers tomorrow, which is very early for Paso Robles.  It's not supposed to be damaging (maybe a half-inch at the most) but we always worry that a first rain might usher in a weather pattern where a succession of storms roll in off the Pacific.  It doesn't look like that will be the case this time; the weather is forecast to be warm and dry next week.  Still, it has added some urgency to bring in what's ripe this week.


Finally, one more shot, this one in the cellar of Grenache clusters on the sorting table being fed into the destemmer machine.  We destem most of our reds (with the occasional exception of an occasional Mourvedre lot a la Bandol, some Tannat which is unwilling to be destemmed, and our Vin de Paille red) to keep them from accumulating tannins from the stems.  You can see the clusters falling into the destemmer, and the violence of the destemming process.


So far, we've harvested just over 100 tons.  Colors and flavors look great, sugars appear to be somewhat lower than normal, and yields range from about average to well below average depending on varietal.