2014 is shaping up to be a phenomenal year for quality. The long, warm, dry summer is allowing the grapes to develop excellent varietal character, and plenty of afternoon winds to keep the grapes disease free.
Bud break was early; the first buds were pushing around March 15th. There were 5 frosty mornings after this, with only minor damage in one block. To balance any excess vigor in the young vines we left shoot thinning until the shoots were about 18" long. The first leaf plucking was carried out at the inflorescence stage and the final leaf plucking was between set and bunch closure. We created a tunnel through the fruit zone so there are no leaves around the clusters, about 80% sun exposure on the morning sun side (East) and about 30% sun exposure on the afternoon sun side (West). We have cropped thinned 3 times so far this season to maintain the right balance between crop load and canopy size; uniformity at harvest is one of our main goals. Due to the heat of the season, ripening has moved very quickly, we have tried to extend hang time by carrying about 20% more crop past veraison, which is now in the process of being removed. The rows have been clean cultivated to allow the planting of a new cover crop this fall.
We are now in the home stretch so the focus is on keeping the vines healthy and fully functioning. Leaving the grapes to hang until phenolic and physiological ripeness is at its peak is key to developing varietal flavors and aromas in the finished wines. Although the days have been hot, nights have been cool, maintaining a good level of acidity in the grapes.
All the fruit will be hand-picked once we have reached optimal ripeness. We are estimating this time to land between September 10th and October 10th.
Harvest began on September 4th with the picking of the Pinot Gris. Our last picking day was September 28th with the harvest of the Tempranillo and Syrah. We couldn't have been happier with the quality of the grapes and can let you know the wines are tasting phenomenal!!