A quick word on our 2022 harvest. And what a harvest it is.
We suspected that harvest would be early. Much to our surprise, it’s about three to four weeks early. We haven’t seen a harvest this early in over 20 years.
We started harvesting earlier this week and we are about half done. Next week should wrap things up.
Whether you believe in global warming or not, vineyards throughout California experienced an unusual combination of climate conditions tilted towards sunny days, abnormally low rainfall, dry air conditions, and high heat.
First, the winter rains we normally experience after harvest were, to speak plainly, missing.
And in the early spring, we saw warm weather come early, stimulating the vines to exit their dormancy and get a head start their annual cycle. And the Spring continued that trend until we entered the day-time heat of Summer.
And that heat was early, lingering, and intense in the weeks prior to September. These conditions resulted in the vines racing to mature their fruit early and the just concluded September heat wave accelerated the consumption of acid within the fruit and accelerated the accumulation of sugar. We saw unprecedented daily increases in the concentration of sugar within the fruit.
We we weren’t on the fast track; we were on the short drag racing strip.
We had to make adjustments to our normal routines. Instead of checking our grapes every few days, we found ourselves checking every morning.
The most fascinating part of this climate cycle was that weather conditions were very similar in grape growing areas all over the state. Normally there are significant regional differences. This time, it feels like all grape growing areas are on the same time-line.
The result has been a mad scramble among growers to reserve harvester dates, schedule trucking of fruit to the wineries, and secure winery crush appointments.
We are very happy with the fruit that we harvested. Acid levels were dead-on. We tasted good fruit flavors.
We think a substantial part of our fruit quality was due to our location less than 40 miles from Monterey Bay. Every night this summer, our vineyards received cool air. This allowed the vines to recover from the sun and heat and re-fresh their nutrients every night. We are seeing excellent balance between fruit flavors and acid levels.
To capture that fruit quality, we also decided the smart call was to harvest on the early side. If in normal years we’d wait a few more days or a week, this year we decided to pick immediately. And we’re glad we did. Sun damage to the skins of the fruit was minimal and we saw clean fruit going through the crusher and press.
We start fermentation next week and we’ll give an update on wine development in about a month.