An updated weather assessment for the 2010 vintage
A great idea by the Rhone Rangers: Pneumonia's Last Syrah

Notes from the Cellar: Harvest 2010 Begins! (AKA Fruit and Football; It Must be Fall)

By Chelsea Magnusson

Experts claim that the (official) first day of autumn is September 22nd.  Typically, I hate to disagree with expert opinion, but my first day of fall was yesterday.  Supporting evidence includes the fact that Sundays and Mondays are now spent watching football, but the primary reason for my autumnal confusion is that we brought in our first pick of fruit yesterday.  For me, that’s fall. 

Vermentino was given the red-carpet treatment yesterday as bin after bin was harvested, unloaded from the vineyard truck, weighed, and pressed.  The feeling of excitement was palpable as everyone settled into their harvest roles. 

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The fruit is harvested by hand and unloaded onto a trailer that will deliver the fruit to the winery

A full bin of fruit ready to go to the winery.

We’ve been waiting at the ready for the last two weeks, drumming our fingers in anticipation for the 2010 harvest to begin.  Everything had been scrubbed, rinsed, pressure washed, polished, organized… and then, it sat.  Finally, Ryan decided he had spent enough time waiting and set out with a mission to find something that was ready to pick.  Sure enough, he found a block of Vermentino that showed a brix (or sugar) reading of 21.0°.  While that may seem awfully low, it’s just right for Vermentino.  We typically harvest this varietal around 21-22°Brix to maintain its characteristic vibrancy, brightness, and playful acidity.  For a point of reference, we tend to harvest whites between 21-24°B and reds anywhere from 22-26°B.  It’s important to keep in mind that a decision to pick is based not just on the brix level of the grapes, but on three main things: the sugar reading, the pH level, and the total acidity.  Together, these three elements determine the ripeness of the berry.

Today, we’re harvesting Viognier.  It may be a slow start, but it’s nice to have some practice getting back into the swing of things.  Since our fall has begun, we’ll be seeing bins of fruit in our sleep.  And on Sunday night, I’ll be watching the Giants play the Colts.  Holy smokes, do I love fall…

The vineyard truck takes its first load of fruit to the winery to be processed.