Each and every year, our growing season comes to a close with a rushed harvest of grapes from our vineyards. Our winemaker, Dean Sylvester, oversees the process and selects the blocks of grapes that are picked each day through the two month harvesting season. We chatted with Dean today to get an early report on this year’s bounty of fruit.
Loads of Fruit
As of September 9th, close to 200 tons of fruit have been harvested which puts us a bit ahead of our average for this stage of the season. Most of that is Sauvignon Blanc, with a little Chardonnay and some Merlot as well from our Bommarito, Estate and Oak Glen Vineyards. In just 7 days of picking, that means about 30 tons of fruit have been pulled each day! With the crew working twelve to fifteen hour days without a single day off through November, the winery will be buzzing around the clock with this year’s harvest.
Dean walks the rows and tastes grapes from each block until they are, simply, “delicious.” After 38 years of winemaking, he knows that in order to have delicious wine you need to start with delicious fruit. Sixteen of those years have been spent with us and we can proudly say that his keen taste has been a key part of our success. We are happy to say that he is expecting a great year.
The next week is looking like it will stay hot as it has been lately. That means that the fruit is largely harvested at night, both to ease the work on the labor force in the fields and to ensure the grapes are cool when they get to the winery to keep their quality up to our standards. With our warm and dry spring and summer ending with high temperatures in September, we expect fruit to ripen quickly and to be done a little earlier than normal with harvest even with a bigger crop expected.
We plan to have the majority of the white grapes done within the next few weeks. The exception being Semillon, which Dean likes to let hang a little longer to get the ripeness he likes to see in that variety. This Wednesday we will start pulling our biggest crop, Cabernet Sauvignon, from the vines as well as other reds throughout our vineyards.
Unique for 2013
Dean was excited to see the great quality fruit coming off the vines for this year’s harvest and expects it to be a wonderful vintage for Whitehall Lane. This year he wants to make a small batch of our first ever Rosé from our Syrah grapes for the wine club and tasting room. We are also excited to have the second harvest of our Sonoma Cabernet from the Rassi Vineyard. It will be our first full year owning the vineyard, and the changes that we’ve made in farming lead Dean to believe this vintage will be even better than the last. Stay tuned to our blog for more updates as we move into the next phase of harvest and then the most fun part of all- making the wine!