Here’s what happening in the vineyards!
I went out to the vineyards, a couple days ago, and checked everything. The fruit is getting ripe and everything is looking great. The Labor Day Weekend heatwave probably wasn’t as intense as maybe they usually are, or certainly as they were in ’15, ’16, ’17. The temperatures were in the low-90s in the Sta. Rita Hills and over 100 in Santa Ynez and the warmer part of the Valley. We’re kind of right on the edge of everything being ready to come in.
It’ll be an interesting few days in the winery because we’re going to have just a flood of chardonnay and Pinot Noir that’s virtually all going to be ripe at the same time. I think we’re going to start picking next week, either Monday or Tuesday, those will be our first picks. As far as quality goes, everything looks exceptional. The vineyards really do look better than I can ever remember seeing them.
There were some challenges this year, there was more mildew pressure, because of the cool weather and the fog and just the wet year that we had. So the vineyards basically had to respond by doing more aggressive canopy management, a little bit more aggressive fruit thinning in areas where the yields were a little bit heavier. But that being said, everything looks really good and we’re still kind of on-track to have this exceptional cool climate vintage, which is really exciting. I’m still hugely optimistic about the quality of 2019, and I think we’re going to make some really cool wines, this year.
Two weeks from today, we’re going to have virtually all the Pinot Noir in, and all the chardonnay. We’re going to start picking Pinot and Chardonnay next week – and then the following week, we’ll probably finish up with everything but the extreme cool-climate sites. So, September’s going to be a busy month, and it’s kind of nice to have September be the busy month and not August. Because during all the drought years, our harvest timing was really accelerated and we were picking a lot earlier than we historically had. And, both this vintage and 2018 are kind of a return to the normal seasonal timing for harvest here in Santa Barbara.
Here’s what happening in the cellar!
In the cellar, we’ve been extremely busy. We finalized all the blending on what will become our single-vineyard Pinots from 2018. And then we put the blend together for our Sta. Rita Hills Pinot and our Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay, which we bottled on August 30th. It was our first bottling in Goleta, and I was reflecting on this, after we finished for the day, I think it was possibly the smoothest bottling that I’ve ever participated in, in my wine career.
It was just problem-free, the wines taste awesome, just really clean and pure, and the way they taste straight out of the barrel, which is what you want. That’s kind of the biggest challenge with the bottling process is how do you capture that magic that’s in the barrel, and make sure you get it in the bottle. And, we achieved that by having a very gentle process with moving the wines, ensuring everything’s minimally handled, low use of sulfur, and just being very focused on preserving quality. We wanna capture all of that and get it in the bottle, so the wines all age really well for years or decades to come.
It’s going to be harvest activity in the cellar, as we’re going to bring in Chardonnay, pressing that right away and starting our barrel fermentation. And then for Pinot Noir, we’ll be bringing fruit in, foot-stomping some of it, destemming some of it, and getting our fermentation started. The Pinot will sit on the skins for about 25 days, give or take, and after which we press and fill up our barrels. And, it’s going to be just a busy couple of weeks, bringing grapes in and just getting fully in the harvest zone!