A great spring and summer growing season led to beautiful vineyards and a heavy crop load. The exception was the Cabernet Sauvignon clusters, which were looking a little few and far between. Luckily the Chardonnay and Merlot crops looked great!
On September 20th the recently replanted “Point” block Cabernet Sauvignon was our first harvest of the season. This vineyard looks like it might continue to be an early harvesting Cabernet vineyard block: we picked this block first last year, too. At the other end of the spectrum, the Zinfandel in the Point block apparently likes to take its time; the Zin was harvested three weeks later on October 10th..
The field samples were telling, showing the Cabernet Sauvignon to be much riper than the Merlot, Chardonnay and Zinfandel on the Keenan Estate. Cabernet Sauvignon yields were going to be low, Merlot and Chardonnay yields were going to be average, to above average. Lower yields allow the vine to ripen the berries faster, and with fewer Cabernet Sauvignon berries for the vine to ripen, the Cab Sauv ripened faster. In less than a week we had picked over 70% of our estate Cabernet Sauvignon, and we hadn’t yet touched our estate Chardonnay or Merlot.
The Chardonnay Clone 4 and Dijon Clones were ready by end of September and both blocks were picked by September 28th. Chardonnay yields were wonderful and flavors were delicious, while sugars remained a little lower than usual.
We began picking the Estate Merlot and Cabernet Franc on September 29th, and within a week we had harvested the majority of both varietals. Cabernet Franc and Merlot yields were around average, but no problem getting these varieties ripe this year. This was a real blessing after the challenging cool growing seasons we saw in 2011 and 2010.
During harvest the Keenan team regularly tastes the fresh wines out of fermentation tank and barrel, and every year I hear, “this year is the best.” Well, I heard it again this year, and I cannot disagree. Look forward to the 2012’s!