Frediani Merlot & Franc

It was Selene’s first red grape pick for the year. We picked at Frediani Family Vineyards up in Calistoga. We picked Merlot and Cab Franc today. Selene’s been getting this Merlot from Frediani since the 1997 harvest, and the Cab Franc since 2002. Both sites are really nice, not too far from the Silverado Trail around Pickett Road, if you know Calistoga at all.

We had a crew of 10, and picked a total of almost 20 tons between the two varieties. We finished up at 1pm. The first load of grapes arrived at Laird before 10am. We were able to get a tank for the Merlot right away and one for the Franc after going back and forth. I think I mentioned that Jim thought there was a little less Franc than we thought, since he had picked some Franc yesterday for Etude. Based on the Etude pick, we planned for a smaller tank at Laird. As we picked, we found out we were going to be a little heavier, so we went back to the original tank we had been assigned. It’s a part of the craziness of harvest! It’s pretty hard to make super accurate crop predictions. We know we are running a little heavier than we expect this year, so we can factor that in, but even then we get thrown a curve ball.

The fruit looks really nice. The leaves are starting to yellow and brown all around, so there was a lot of brown leaves that we were pulling out the bins this morning, and just a little bit of dried fruit. They came through the heat nicely, as we had a couple warm days this week.

We are nice and cool today, with clouds overhead. There is a slight chance of rain this evening and another chance tomorrow. It’s anywhere from 10 to 30 percent and only for trace amounts, depending on who you read. Hopefully it won’t amount to anything. There are still a lot of people that have Chardonnay left out, so you have to feel for them. Selene and most of my clients only have reds out at this point. Unless it’s a couple of bouts of a half-inch or better, it really doesn’t effect the reds at all, except to settle the dust and wash the grime off the grapes. However for the Chardonnay it wouldn’t be that good.

Anyway, it was a long morning; we started a little bit before 7am, just when it was light enough. With the clouds overhead, we didn’t get the light as early as we normal would. It was a beautiful sunrise; you couldn’t really see the sunrise, just the reflection and refraction of the sunlight on the clouds was really beautiful and the small clearings in the clouds were really nice to see.

So the little schizophrenia that I was talking about, like getting tanks and how many grapes are you going to have. It’s always hard, because you have to be out there (during picks) on the ground, or have someone good on the ground, to make calculations once you’ve made one pass in the vineyard. If you need to change something, you have to get in touch with the production manager at Laird. Just trying to get hold of someone, even with the miracles of cell phones, can be difficult, as everyone is busy. So I sent Skippy, the ‘person who does everything else but make the wine’ here at Selene, out to do a winemaking chore while I stayed at the vineyard pick and pulled leaves, inspected the grapes and looked at crop size. She went down to Laird to get face to face with people and fill out paperwork that I neglected to do in preparation of grapes arriving at Laird. It was handy since she could report directly back to me via our cell phones, and we got our tanks assigned properly, and got everything done very efficiently.

We have grapes in the tank now! We have a tank of Merlot and a tank of Cabernet Franc. They will soak overnight before we yeast them tomorrow. We will get a lab analysis to look at some numbers and see where things stand. It looks really good, and I’m real excited about this year. It maybe a year to work with press cuts and a little bit of bleeding of some of the juice away from the grapes. In general we have good ripeness at not such super high sugars. We will see how they extract color over the next few days, and have a better handle on it then.

I also went to visit some client vineyards in the area while the pick was going on, and reported back to client winemakers. I’ll be running around looking at grapes tomorrow, mostly for clients. I will certainly make a stop at Laird to check in on the Bressler Merlot. The Bressler’s, Bob and Stacey, are two people I hope to run into tomorrow while I’m walking through their vineyard. I’ll grab a sample of their fermenting Merlot so they will have their first taste of it since their grapes were crushed this past Monday.

Selene’s small tank fermentation of Sauvignon Blanc is progressing nicely. It will probably be dry sometime next week. So we may look at racking that off and getting it into an appropriate sized tank then.