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September 2006
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November 2006

Autumn at Tablas Creek

Well, fall is here.  We're into a cycle of weather where we come near a frost at night (we've actually dropped below freezing a couple of times) and then rise up into the 70s and 80s during the day.  It's Paso Robles at its most spectacular.


One result is that we're having perfect conditions to finish harvest with (we expect the last grapes to come in today).  The second result is that the grape leaves have exploded into gorgeous fall colors.  Some more photos, courtesy of Meghan Dunn:


October 20th: Picking Away!

This week has been as productive as we had hoped, and we have brought in over 100 tons of grapes.  The weather has been perfect, with days in the upper 80s, clear skies, and a good breeze.  We've brought in the Grenache and Grenache Blanc, and most of the rest of our Roussanne and Marsanne. 


With good weather forecast into next week, we're going to wait on the Mourvedre (a sample bunch is pictured above; note the still-green stems and the relatively inflated berries).  We decided that we could pick the Mourvedre if bad weather threatened, but with more sun in store, we feel that it will be even better if we wait. 

So far, so good... excellent depth of flavors, good intensity, smaller berries than 2005, and good concentration at slightly lower sugar levels than past years.  Excellent!

Harvest, Week of October 16th

We took a break from harvesting late last week to let an early band of cool, wet weather pass.  Parts of the Central Coast received significant amounts of rain (even some big thunderstorms) but at Paso Robles we received a more moderate 0.2" over Thursday night and Friday morning.  It cleared up, though staying cool, over the weekend, and we are looking forward to a full week of sun and warm temperatures.  One beneficiary of the rain: our season's first rainbow: 


For this week, we're preparing to harvest (in order) the rest of our Grenache Blanc, Grenche Noir, and Roussanne, and beginning our Mourvedre harvest.  It looks as though two of our smallest-acreage grapes (Picpoul and Counoise) will be the last grapes out this year.

In the cellar, we're pressing off Syrah lots, and moving the wine to barrels to complete its primary fermentation and begin its malolactic.

More later this week...

Harvest, Week of October 9

The cool and wet weather at the end of last week and the beginning of this week has temporarily halted picking. The light rain has washed some of the dirt off the grapes, and we’ll be ready to bring in more grapes as the weather remains dry.  At this point, we have approximately one third of the grapes in the winery.

Meanwhile, in the winery, we have begun pressing the Syrah. After fermenting for about two weeks in open-top tanks, the Syrah is now ready to be pressed. The juice in the tanks is pumped into a tank, and the remaining berries are transferred to the bladder press, where we squeeze out the remaining juice.  The juice will spend the next several months in tanks and barrels, where it will complete primary and secondary fermentation before being blended next spring.



Harvest, Week of October 2

This week we began bringing in more of the red varietals, including almost 20 tons of Syrah and a small amount of Grenache. The Syrah is put into open-top tanks to ferment, and as the grape skins float to the top of the tank, we pump the juice over the top of the cap of skins. This process keeps the skins moist, and helps distribute the color and flavor of the skins throughout the juice.

Img_3653_1We’ve also picked the white grapes for our vin de paille (“wine of straw”) wines. Select bunches of Roussanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc grapes have been laid out on straw beds in our greenhouses to dry out. As they turn into raisins, the sugars and juice is concentrated (and the skins turn dark). This is a traditional method for producing sweet wines in climates that are neither susceptible to botrytis nor consistently cold enough to produce ice wine. We’ll probably press the grapes within the next few weeks and age them in barrel, to produce our sweet dessert vin de paille wines.