It often happens in harvest that you get your first burst of fruit and then enter a lull, where it seems like half your vineyard is sitting there almost-but-not-quite ready. Because you're into the routine of daily punch-downs, and you've broken out your harvest equipment, it seems like you should be in the full swing of harvest, but when you look back at the totals you realize you were really in a holding pattern. That was our story for the second half of August.
That story ends today.
First, a quick recap of what we've seen the past two weeks. Our first few days, where we welcomed 30 tons of Patelin fruit between August 13th and 15th, were busy indeed. But the next two weeks saw a slower pace, with another 47 tons of Patelin fruit spread over the period. This included 8 more tons of Grenache Blanc and 12 more tons of Viognier for Patelin Blanc, 12 more tons of Syrah for Patelin, and 15 tons of Grenache Noir for the Patelin Rosé. We've also been guiding the early red lots through their fermentations, keeping the skins and juice mixed by pumping them over (or in some cases, using compressed air to inundate the cap of skins) twice a day:
More exciting, we saw our first harvest off our estate, with 2.8 tons of Viognier on August 23rd and another 2.8 tons two days later. We also made a first pass through the Pinot Noir at the Haas Vineyard, for our Full Circle:
And, we've been out in the vineyard every day, taking samples and assessing whether or not blocks are ready:
The pause during the second half of August was not surprising, in retrospect, because it turned out to be quite cool for us, historically. Most days topped out in the 70's or low 80's. Between August 15th and August 31st we accumulated just 304 degree hours (a common agricultural measurement of heat), 20% less than either 2012 or 2013 and 5% cooler even than the cool 2011 and 2010 harvests.
That cool weather ended over the Labor Day weekend, with five days topping 90, and the vineyard has responded as you would expect. Samples we took yesterday suggested that Viognier, Vermentino, Syrah and even one block of Mourvedre were ready to pick, and we're now entering the period where sequencing what gets picked and pressed, and in what order, becomes a daily challenge. Knowing this fruit was coming, we pressed off four upright tanks of Syrah yesterday, so they're ready and waiting for the new arrivals:
We've already run two press loads of Vermentino today, and will try to squeeze in (pun intended) two more of Viognier. We've got another picking of Pinot Noir on the way, and will in all likelihood see close to 100 tons this week alone.
Happily, the heat has already moderated (forecast high for today: upper 80's) and we're supposed to have another cool week this week. This will give us a chance to catch up, and slow down the vineyard's progress a touch.
In terms of character, the grapes look very much like they did last year: intense yet balanced, with thick skins and dark color, moderate sugar levels, and good acidity. So far, so good.