Autumn Images in the Vineyard
Challenges in assessing a vintage like 2008

End of Harvest 2008: two weeks of Mourvedre, Roussanne, and Counoise, and a better picture on yields than we'd been expecting

We're concluding the 2008 harvest today.  Yesterday, we brought in 6 tons of Mourvedre, and today added another 2.5 from from a last pass through late-ripening areas where we left odd bits here and there.  Yesterday's bins of Mourvedre are below:


We were pleased (and surprised) to see how the fruit continued ripening after our freeze nights earlier in October.  The handful of rows in the swales that were frozen stopped ripening (and provided the fruit for our whole-cluster fermentation experiment) but the rest of the vineyard, which we expected to also be impacted, recovered quickly.  The weather over the last three weeks has been gorgeous... warm days in the upper 80s and nights in the lower 40s.  You couldn't ask for better weather.  This has allowed fruit to continue to gain intensity and sugars but not lose acids too fast.  The fruit looks gorgeous: soft and ripe, with nice color and great flavors.  A Mourvedre cluster below is a good example of how the grapes start to deflate when they're fully ripe:


Over the past two weeks, we've harvested about 69 tons of fruit, including Mourvedre (38 tons), Roussanne (19 tons), Counoise (10 tons), and our last ton of Grenache.  This puts our final yields at 251 tons, or 10 tons more than last year.  Broken up by varietal:

Grape 2008 Yields (tons) 2007 Yields (tons) % Change
Viognier 19.4 9.2 +110.9%
Marsanne 9.8 6.2 +58.1%
Grenache Blanc 23.5 19.6 +19.9%
Picpoul Blanc 6.6 4.9 +34.7%
Vermentino 2.8 3.9 -28.2%
53.4 39.9 +33.8%
Total Whites 115.5 83.7
Grenache 46.9 54.8 -14.4%
Syrah30.141.6 -27.6%
Mourvedre 44.7 45.8 -2.4%
Tannat 5.4 5.5 -1.9%
Counoise 14.2 13.8 +2.9%
Total Reds 135.9 157.4
Total 251.4 241.1

This is a prettier picture than what we were projecting two weeks ago.  It will hurt to be down in reds, though not for a couple of years.  It will be great to have more whites than we did in the 2007 vintage.  Of course, we're still below our high water mark for yields (121 tons of whites and 177 tons of reds) we saw in 2006.

The weather is turning, with a forecast over the weekend for three separate storms and perhaps an inch of rain or more.  That would be great.  We really really really (really really really) need the rain to come this winter.  But whether it comes this weekend or not, it's a lot better to know that what we have in the cellar is really good, and fairly substantial in quantity.