Saturday, August 14, 2010

Harvest Forecast

For the third morning in a row the fog has stayed in the valley below and now ripening is beginning in earnest as purple sour grapes build sugar. The Tempranillo and Petit Sirah have been netted. Most growers in California are forecasting a late harvest. For us, two weeks later would put our harvest in mid-September, a bit earlier for the Tempranillo, a bit later for the Petit Sirah, Grenache and Zin, and much later for the Aglianico. Time to think about storage requirements. Can we accommodate the fruit we're expecting?

Fruit set of the Petit Sirah was solid and required thinning. (We dropped about 20% of the fruit.) Last year, we only harvested about 400 lbs, which was reduced because of mildew damage. I'm going to guess 50% more this year plus we have an additional 30+ vines coming on line so I'll estimate close to 750 lbs. (close to a barrel). The Tempranillo harvest last year yielded 1.5 barrels of juice. I'm forecasting about the same this year, with perhaps a slight increase if our nets hold (less for the birds, more for us). I wouldn't be surprised if we got close to 2 barrels of it this year. The Zinfandel yield was 500 lbs. and 30 gallons of juice. The fruit set has been good. Perhaps a 20% increase this year as the vines are stronger and carrying more weight. So, about 600 lbs. The Grenache and Aglianico are wildcards. Fruit set was poor for both varietals. Last year, we harvested about 200 lbs. of Grenache, which yielded about 13 gallons of liquid. We have a significant increase in vines coming on line, but I'm not sure of the fruit. So, I'll estimate about 250 lbs. And, for the Aglianico, about the same. Therefore, the forecast for juice is below in gallons (and in parentheses I'll list containers for initial storage and settling after pressing):

Tempranillo: 100 gallons (80 gallon flex tank + 15 gallon stainless barrel + 1 carboy)
Petit Sirah: 50 gallons (48 gallon poly container)
Zinfandel: 40 gallons (1 15-gallon stainless barrel, 1 15-gallon glass carboy, 2 carboys)
Grenache: 15 gallons (3 carboys)
Aglianico: 15 gallons (3 carboys)

It looks like most of the storage is available, without needing to bottle last year's wine to free up space. Good news; we'll let the 2009 wines age longer before bottling, which should improve their quality.

I wonder if we'll be harvesting the Tempranillo Labor Day Weekend? And, when will the annual 3-Vineyard Harvest at Merlot Mike's take place?

1 comment:

Graciano said...

Hello Craig,

How fortunate you guys will be down there harvesting much earlier than us in Wine Country. I am expecting harvesting about 10 days to 2 weeks late than in previous years unless a heat wave comes along. Last year the Syrah for my employer was approximately 50 percent veraison at this time of the season. This year is approximately 15 percent. We are having extensive cool weather late afternoons and below normal temperatures during the day. Good luck and a successful harvest.