Well – things took a rather dramatic turn after our last update! Shoulda known better than to brag about the great weather Mother Nature reminded us, once again, who’s in charge and she did it in spades.
A mere four days after that post we got three+ inches of torrential rainfall in 24 hours here in Yountville. My rain gage at home in St. Helena showed over five inches. SHOCKING! WE DON’T ALLOW RAIN DURING HARVEST!!
What’s the beef? A little sprinkle is nothing to worry about. But, big-time rain causes rot and dilution – some varieties are more susceptible than others.
Lucky for us, a couple of days before the rain hit we got our three rows of Petit Verdot in looking very nice, thank you very much. That just left the Syrah.
After the rain stopped, Geoff gave it a few days, then went down to the Carneros , where our Syrah is grown, with trepidation. He saw some sad looking Chardonnay and Zin there but,fortunately, the Syrah looked clean and the sugar was just where it was for last year’s crush. So, not wishing to push his luck, we brought it in the next day. Thus, our harvest ended. Next day? More heavy rain. Good call, Geoff!!
As for our Napa Valley neighbors, things could be a lot worse. If you could choose which grape get hits by the rain it would be good-old Cabernet Sauvignon, which is about the only thing still hanging. It’s tough skinned, like the Syrah, and forms a loose cluster. The air circulation helps prevent rot. Plus, last weekend was very warm and somewhat windy, which really helps dry things out. Folks are harvesting at a frentic pace to finish up in case Mother Nature gets peevish again.
From valley-wide reports, just about everything will be in by Halloween. The most common response to rain damage is to be extremely careful about sorting the fruit when it gets to the winery. Most winemakers are quite optimistic about quality, in spite of the rain.
The theme for this harvest, aside from the game-changing rain, is that flavor maturity has been quite good at lower sugar levels, which translates to slightly lower alcohols. We’re absolutely OK with that!
So, all that’s left is to finish pressing, get the wines barreled up and call it a vintage. Cheers!