Back to Back to Back Picking

On Monday (August 27th) I did some sampling for Selene and Bressler.  The Frediani 181 Merlot (Selene) and the Bressler Merlot were in the 25 brix region.  (Frediani 181 Merlot was 25.1 and Bressler Merlot was 25.5.)  Frediani Cab Franc was at 25.0 and the Bressler Cab Franc was at 24.4.  Frediani Niebaum Merlot was 23.5 so it has a ways to go.  The Bressler Petit Verdot was at 22.2.  That 22.2 sounds very low, but actually there are a lot of brown seeds and good flavors and the vines are starting to show signs that they are getting close to being done.  Not that they are under stress, but the PV doesn’t require as much sugar for good maturity as the other cabernet varieties.   At least that is true for Bressler’s PV.

Based on all those numbers and tasting and looking at the color of seeds, I’ve set a lot of things up for picking.  We will be picking the creek block of Sauvignon Blanc by splitting it up.  We will do a little less than half on Friday August 31st and a little more than half on Monday September 3rd. 

Then we will go after the Bressler Merlot on Tuesday September 4th.  On Wednesday September 5th we will go after the Frediani 181 Merlot and the Frediani Cabernet Franc for Selene.  We will go after the Bressler Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot on Thursday September 6th.  Then lastly we will finish up with the old block of Sauvignon Blanc at Hyde on Friday September 7th.

That gets us more than half way done with harvest, just about.  That is where we stand now, and I spoke with Chris Benz (the production manager at Laird) and we got the green light from her at the winery.

In fact yesterday, Richard Hyde (Larry Hyde’s brother) and his wife Karen Hyde came up and picked up 30 bins to pick into, so we are ready to go for Friday’s pick.

Today (August 30th) I went out to sample and verify some things I saw from last week.   We have had a couple of days of good heat, either approaching or over 100 degrees.  I just wanted to take a look at the vines and see how they are doing. 

The Bressler Cab Franc and PV have definitely made progress in terms of flavors and in getting 95% of the seeds brown.  Also looking at the vines, the lower basal leaves have succumbed a little bit to the heat.   It’s a very small amount, maybe 10% of the basal leaves, but it’s showing signs that they are ready to go (be picked).   The Cab Franc is at 25.6 which means it moved a little bit more than a brix.  The PV is at 23 even, so it’s not quite moved a brix.  The seeds are getting brown, the flavors are coming along nicely and the vines are just showing the very early signs that they want to be done.  We have exactly seven days until we pick those two things, so I think it’s a good plan to keep them on the schedule we have.

I also took the first sample of Bressler Cabernet.  Those are older vines on St. George root stock so they tend to run behind some of these younger vines of other things than Cabernet on the Bressler property.  It’s at 23.8 now and I’d say more than 50% of the seeds are green so it will be at least a couple weeks out, but we will keep an eye on it to make sure everything is going okay.

Then I went up to Frediani to check out the Cab Franc one more time.   Those vines are looking very good and the fruit is tasting wonderful.  I got a 26.2 sugar, so we are going to be in good shape to pick that next week as well.

That kind of sums it up, we are going to have a busy 8 or 10 days starting tomorrow (Friday) Picking Picking Picking!  Getting stuff in tanks fermenting and getting the Sauvignon Blanc in Barrels fermenting.  But we will knock a good chunk of it off and just have a three or four picks left to go.

I’m pretty happy with what I see so far.  We are supposed to have a cool down with the weather starting later today, hopefully it does kick in, but it won’t be anything dramatic.

We did have a little scare weather wise when I looked on my NOAA site this morning.  The southern edge of the area that they predict for (southern Monterey County) was getting some thunder storms this morning from a tropical storm that moved up from Mexico.  There was a slight chance that we were going to get some of it up here.  Certainly no white grapes want to see any rain right now, they are so close to being ripe and delicate that rain would not be a good thing.  It’s clear as a bell out there now, but it’s warm.  I don’t think we will see any of that rain, but around the Paso Robles area and southern part of Monterey they got a bit. 

It brings up a conversation I had with Larry Hyde about three weeks ago, when I asked him what this year reminds him of, and he said ‘OH!  1989 for sure!  Just like it!’  And I just wanted to banish the thought because 1989 was one of those years that we did get rain during harvest and they were the tropical variety.  Which means they are warm and muggy, so even after the rain is done, it’s still warm and muggy.   It’s not good, especially for white grapes.  I can remember in 1989 seeing unpicked blocks of Semillion and Chardonnay into December because people just gave up on them.   It wasn’t wide spread, but it was there.   One of those unusual years where we got rain during harvest.  I’m still hopeful we don’t see that and in this one case Larry Hyde is wrong.