Can’t get anyone to say anything bad about the 2007 vintage. The weather is just so darned agreeable! It’s doing it again today! When the human population is so blissfully comfortable, you can bet the vines are feeling good, too, so things are looking very rosy indeed!
Be happy for the sparkling wine producers because many of them have begun harvest in the last few days, which means they’re getting the full benefit of the beautiful weather. The rest of us have to wait, which means that there’s the chance the Mother Nature can still turn on us, but we don’t like to think that way.
Here’s a description of an ideal growing season around here: warm, but not too-hot days; cool, foggy nights; no rain. That’s 2007 in a nutshell so far. And so we have high hopes. In fact Lee Hudson, a local grower, is so fair-weather besotted that he pronounced 2007 to be “…an exquisite season. I predict the best harvest in 100 years.” No, he doesn’t work in marketing.
You can see the grapes have made progress since the last time I was out with the camera. Lookin’ good!
OK, petty gripes:
1. Low rainfall last winter, about 2/3 of normal. This would be more of a problem if it was a hot summer, but it’s been so mild that the vines haven’t been as thirsty as we feared they might be and no one seems to be talking about water shortages. There’s actually a dry-conditions upside (provided it doesn’t continue) of small, non-watery grapes within the cluster. If we don’t have good rainfall in 2008 the gripe will no longer be petty.
2. A little “shatter” in some vineyards. That just means that pollination was impaired here and there, for some reason, and there was some crop loss. No one seems to be able to put their finger on the cause this year. The estimate for the valley is that the crop is down by about 10% of “normal”, whatever that means.;-) Geoff Gorsuch, our Winemaker, thinks we’re just about normal, maybe slightly down.
Geoff just thinned the crop for the third time this year. It’s not unusual to thin a little before and after fruit set is complete. Over the last few weeks, as veraison (the color change) has been wrapping up, he’s thinned again in the sections where he’s noticed some reluctance to color up. The result? Bam! Instant, gorgeous color in the clusters that remain. It’s all about distribution of energy.
We’re running a little ahead of schedule. Early is a blessing because it gives us a better shot at getting the grapes in before the rains hit. The only time it’s a gripe is if the growing season is shortened and the fruit doesn’t get enough “hang time“. The whole season has been early from the get-go, and, in these mild temperatures, the grapes tend to ripen slowly, so they should have plenty of time to develop good flavor maturity and intensity. Geoff says it’s too soon to be sure.
He figures we’ll probably bring in our first grapes, usually Sauvignon Blanc, around Labor Day. With any luck we’ll wrap it up with Petit Verdot or Cab some time in October.
If we can find a way to prolong Mother Nature’s excellent mood, then maybe Mr. Hudson’s prediction will come true. Under these circumstances, Geoff’s biggest fear is human error. “When you’re handed a year like this, the best thing to do is just try not to screw it up!”