Path to Upper Bowl
The warm winter and early bud break of 2013 had us wondering if we might begin harvest super early. A mild summer slowed things down though. I recall only one really hot week, which began at the end of June and lasted until 4th of July. The rest of July, August and September were tough to beat from a climate standpoint. An occasional day might top out in the low 90’s, but otherwise perfect days with highs in the 80’s and lows in the 50’s.
Turns out harvest didn’t begin in August, but it did start pretty early. On September 6th we picked the young Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the Point Vineyard. This vineyard was replanted recently (2008) and younger vineyards, hanging less fruit, are the usual early picks during harvest. The vineyard was picked 2 weeks earlier than in 2012 though, so we expected other vineyard blocks were on track for early harvest
The Chardonnay matured next and was picked on September 9th and 10th. The fruit was nice and ripe (over 24 brix) with great acidity. Unfortunately, yield for the Chardonnay was a little light. Some of the fruit clusters had developed Powdery Mildew, so in late August we dropped the infected clusters.The Chardonnay is always deceiving though. Even after dropping clusters we anticipated a larger yield than what we ended up with
On September 11th, 12th and 13th we picked lots of Cabernet, while Merlot wasn’t quite ready. Zinfandel from the Point Vineyard came in on the 13th as well. Within 8 days we had harvested half of the Keenan estate, yet we weren’t even half way through September.
Things slowed down a bit and the next pick was the Mailbox Merlot on September 19th and 20th. Once this fruit started rolling in we realized why the Merlot was ripening more slowly than the Cabernet Sauvignon; Merlot yields were significantly larger than Cabernet. It turns out our Cabernet Sauvignon yields were slightly lower than average while the Merlot reached record levels.
Our final Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc and Syrah lots trickled in over the next few weeks, with the last block, the Keenan Zinfandel, being picked on October 10th. Overall we tasted mature flavors at lower sugar levels this year, and great acidity. This is a good thing in our minds; great balance between flavors, texture, acidity and finished alcohol. Keep your eye on the 2013’s