Another vintage is in the record books, and as usual, the final stretch was frenzied and challenging, with a last curveball from the weather. All was looking fantastic in mid-August: we had never been so confident of the quality and quantity of our primitivo, the barbera had avoided all the usual landmines, the Portugese varietals looked solid, and the bird nets were deployed. The fourth 100 F+ heat wave had given way to perfect late summer 90+ F weather, and it looked like we were going to cruise with moderate temps through harvest like in the amazing 2012 vintage.
Then, an intense heatwave hit in the last 1/3 of August, with about a 10-day stretch of highs in the 100-108 F range. Despite few or no well issues courtesy of the abundant rain last winter, we simply could not rotate our irrigation fast enough to prevent a rapid rise in brix, due mainly to dehydration. We harvested our primitivo at the tail end of that heat wave on September 1, and cooling temps coupled with our ability to direct more irrigation water at the barbera (with primitivo in) allowed us to save the barbera and bring it in at respectable mid/upper-20s brix and very good condition, with one of the best yields in recent years. However, it may have gotten cheated out of a little bit of hang time by the preceding hot weather. The Quinta bore a little light this year but enjoyed plenty of hangtime and reasonable temps toward the end, and the non-Quinta touriga delivered solid quality and quantity with fine early autumn weather. Our last client harvest was today, on October 3.
As usual with our last blog post of the season, we would like to sincerely thank our clients, who included 4 commercial wineries and over a dozen home winemakers, some of which we met, some of which received our grapes through group purchases so we didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to meet. We appreciate our clients’ patience and flexibility as we navigated the challenging logistics of harvest that require a confluence of buyer’s availability, labor availability, our availability, and last but not least, appropriately rip grapes, the latter being only a 1-2 week window. We thank you for dropping off bins in advance, being on time for pickups, and for many of our returning clients, for sharing the fruits of prior vintages. We love to taste what you have done with our grapes. We also thank our laborers–both paid and volunteer–particularly for their herculean efforts during harvest.
We now look forward to our favorite part of the annual cycle–the down time–a time when we recharge, welcome the return of rain, celebrate the holiday season, and partake fully in our other interests. Assuming we don’t come to our senses in the off season and stop farming wine grapes :), we will be back next season ready to do it again, and aim to post pricing and availability by the end of January. God bless.
“Thou my great Father, I thy true son; Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one.” —Be Thou My Vision 8th Century Irish hymn
Dedicated to Joseph D. Standeven 1935-2017