Mild summers and cold harvests…
September 5, 2019
As of September 5, we are waiting for our first Estate grapes to reach “harvestability”, and nobody minds one bit. Everyone knows that harvests in the Santa Cruz Mountains (and most other areas) have been happening earlier and earlier over the last three decades, generally speaking.
Then vs. Now
“In the old days” (think early 1980’s for us) we would almost never pick before Labor Day, and when we did it was only a small amount of Pinot Noir. Now it seems as though we start so early that Labor Day weekend happens unnoticed sometime right in the chronological middle of the chaos. Another troublesome difference is that now we must often pick and process in stifling heat. It’s hard on the crews and it means that we have to work at double-time speeds to get the fruit out of the vineyards and into the cool cellar before it heats up. It can be done, but it’s really a pain. We have had some reprieves recently, as in 2011 when we did not pick Rapley Trail Pinot Noir until October 3rd, but it’s become the exception rather than the rule.
Thankfully we are in an “exception year” now, with 2019 promising to be a later harvest than we’ve become used to. The nights are becoming cooler, the sun is beginning to describe it’s “winter arc” and the days are shortening, all without us picking a single Estate grape, other than to sample. As of today, we are seeing 20-22 brix in the Pinot Noir vineyards and we have not even begun sampling Chardonnay yet. It’ll be another week, maybe more, until we harvest anything. For us we worry much more about cool, wet springs disrupting flowering than we worry about autumn rain damaging ripening fruit. At the moment we see no rain in the forecast, so knock on wood and stay tuned.