The weather did indeed heat up. It has topped out around 102 most of this week, and is forecast to stay hot through the weekend (and then cool down). This heat wave has been a touch gentler than the forecasts were predicting, which is a good thing. And this late in the year (after the autumnal equinox) the nights are so long that we're guaranteed to get good cooling. Yesterday's low was 56.
But still, it seems like most of the vineyard is ripe. We've been harvesting Vermentino, Grenache Blanc and Syrah all week, are starting Roussanne and Grenache Noir, and should finish the Marsanne tomorrow. The ripening has been a bit more uniform than we'd feared, but the quantities a bit lower than we'd hoped. Overall, yields are looking similar to 2008.
I got the chance to get out in the vineyard this morning, and took some photos of where everything is at this stage. I've put a few of the most illustrative in this article, and the rest are in the Vineyard Photos - September 2009 photo album.
We spent this morning harvesting Roussanne. I love this photo of the Roussanne sitting in the picking bin, with the Roussanne vineyard block in the background:
The Roussanne on the vine shows the russet color for which the grape is named:
The reds are at various degrees of ripeness, with the Grenache and the Counoise particularly showing the delaying effects of the spring frosts. Some of these clusters are still finishing veraison. Not the Syrah, though, which is blue-black and ripe, and which we'll finish harvesting this week. We've never had a Syrah harvest so short: just 8 days from first cluster to last:
The Grenache vines that were not impacted by frost have beautiful fruit: purple and luscious. We're bringing in a first "cherry pick" of the ripest, darkest Grenache tomorrow.
At the same time, there are Grenache vines with clusters still mid-veraison:
The Counoise is similar to the Grenache. Some clusters are fairly ripe, others still mid-veraison. A good example of the uneven impact of the frost is the below vine, with clusters at every stage of ripeness:
The Mourvedre (which wasn't really out yet at frost time) is looking remarkably uniform. This is a surprise; it typically gives us some of our largest headaches at harvest time due to its tendency toward uneven ripening. But it is starting to show signs of stress, the first of which is an early change toward fall coloring. It's not unusual for us to pick Mourvedre from vines with very few leaves left.
I'll leave you with one last shot I thought was cool: a photo of the owl box that stands at the intersection of our Grenache, Mourvedre, and Counoise blocks: one of a dozen or so we have scattered around the property as a part of the ongoing war with gophers.