Everything but Cabernet


 Frediani Tractor It’s Monday, and we just picked our second block of Merlot from Frediani Vineyards in Calistoga.  They call it J Merlot because they got the bud wood from Jordon back in 1985 when the vineyard was planted.  It’s on St. George (root stock) and looks to be really good stuff.   We have nice cool weather for picking.  We took out 16 bins, so we should have about 7 tons, or maybe a little bit more.
    Frediani PickWe had a few things going on last week.  On Tuesday, the 26th, we were also at Frediani in Calistoga picking our Cabernet Franc. We have 10 rows there and got just over 9 tons.  It’s fermenting away in the fermentor, and has been there for about 6 days.  It smells good and looks good.  Frediani Cab Franc   On Wednesday we went after the last bit of Hyde Sauvignon Blanc.  We picked the old ‘own rooted’ block that we share with Spottswoode, as well as the few boxes we had left over from the earlier pick the week before.  That last stuff came in nice and ripe, I was happy we gave it the extra time.  The old block did especially well this year also.  They are in barrels starting to ferment away.  It smells really good, like peaches, nectarines and mangos.  We have this pick in a high proportion of new French oak.  The previous pick was closer to 50/50 (stainless steel barrels and new French oak barrels).  When we get close to dryness we will be topping from barrels and soon enough the fermentation will be done and we will rack out of the barrels to free them up for the red stuff.  On Thursday we went after the Bressler’s Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.  We have 3 t-bins fermenting away, one of PV and two of the Cab Franc.  It looks nice as well. All we have left now, since we have gone through a lot of the picking, is Bressler Vineyards Cabernet and Selene’s Dead Fred Vineyard Cabernet.  Those are running 23 or 24 brix and haven’t been moving very much.  Last week was pretty much all cool weather with lots of overcast and fog with temps not reaching 80 degrees even in the afternoon.  Not a typical Indian summer yet, or what we might expect at the end of Sept or beginning of October.  Those last two vineyards will be out for another couple weeks at least, I think.  We have cool weather on tap this week with the possibility of slight showers in the middle of the week.   We aren’t looking for any type of warming until the coming weekend.  I don’t think those last two Cabernet vineyards are going to move too much.  I think within the next two or three weeks we will have them off and they will be in good shape.  Hopefully we will get our Indian Summer going soon. 

Just an update on another couple of things.  The first bit of SB is getting topped up today, not full because it’s not quite done fermenting, but it is starting to quiet down.  Normally we leave about 5 gallons of head space for the foam that gets produced during the fast part of the fermentation.  Now it’s a lot calmer (about 2 percent sugar left) so we like to take away some of the head space. 

We are looking to schedule some pressing for the first bit of Frediani Merlot that we brought in two weeks ago.  It tastes really nice and it’s getting dry.  It’s been off pump overs for a couple of days now.  We are just waiting for it to dry up a little bit more.  We will press it, rack it, and get it to barrels then get the malolactic fermentation going.  The same is true for the Bressler Merlot that came in at the same time.  

So we are just monitoring fermentations, both red and white.  We are making finishing actions with pressings and near toppings while we wait for those last two pieces of cabernet.  Patience right now is a good thing.  

Talking about the bit of rain that is coming, if you have anything left out right now, you want it to be cabernet.  Cabernet has the toughest skins so there is rarely any secondary injury to the grapes which could cause some infections, molds or yeast to get in.   Also it gets the dust off of them, and they could probably use a little drink of water at this point.  Certainly this weather doesn’t do a lot for ripening, but we don’t worry about it too much, unless this weather continues week after week, then we become worried. 

It is more of an issue for the white varieties and for the red varieties that are a tighter cluster and/or a more delicate skin such as Pinot, Zinfandel, Petit Syrah and Grenache.  Even Merlot in some cases can be a little bit tender and the clusters can be a little bit full, but for Cabernet we don’t worry about it unless it’s a deluge for a long period of time.   

I feel pretty happy about this harvest; I like what we have in the barn so far.  Hoping for good weather, I’d like to see some 85 degree days!