Harvest 2013: “Slownoma Coast” Finish Line in Sight
Well, the Turrentine blog states that the North Coast Chardonnay and Pinot Noir harvest is about 50% complete. From the window of my Subaru flashing by on River Road or from walking through my company’s Sonoma Coast vineyards (we sell some of our fruit to other wineries in addition to growing all of Garnet’s fruit), I would put it closer to 75% complete.
Even the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay crop, which I picked last week after anxiously waiting for it to ripen, is finally in the cellar. Good thing, too because the little bit of moisture we saw Monday night in Napa and Sonoma Counties probably spells the end of active Chardonnay ripening time before botrytis takes over. If you didn’t have your Chardonnay picked before, now’s the time to get it in the barn. That is the double-edged sword of growing delicate thin-skinned grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in extreme cool and late-ripening climates like the” Slownoma Coast”; you need to wait long enough for perfect ripeness but not so long so that the fruit melts off the vine.
The end of a crazy Sonoma Coast harvest for Garnet which atypically began two weeks earlier than expected but now has modulated due to two cool spells, is in sight. Now we start really focusing on our Monterey County Vineyards near the Santa Lucia Highlands, where the Pinot is just about perfect and the Chardonnay is actively being pressed. I still, however, have one block of Pinot Noir out at Rodger’s Creek vineyard in the Petaluma Gap area still hanging, waiting until it tastes just right.
This site is high above Stage Gulch Road on the eastern edge of the Petaluma Gap appellation and experiences extremely low yields and screamingly high winds. Both factors, along with it being clone 777, imbue this Pinot Noir literally with a thicker skin, enabling it to hang tough long after my last Russian River Pinot Noir has been picked. Rodgers Creek Vineyard is always the last Pinot Noir I pick in the North Coast and for me it is one of those “wow” vineyards. The list of clients who share its Pinot crop with me is prestigious and score-grabbing. A large portion of the Garnet Sonoma Coast blend is from Rodgers Creek, but I always set aside a few precious barrels of my favorite blocks for a vineyard designate bottling (selecting special cuvees: a topic for another blog entry, as is the definition of “Sonoma Coast”).
So the end of another Garnet Vineyards harvest is in sight, at least on the Sonoma Coast. The Monterey Pinot and Chard crop should all be picked within the next two weeks and I’m looking forward to not scanning the weather reports so much. Making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay means harvest is hectic but usually quite short. First day of harvest was September 3 on Stanly Ranch in Carneros. The last day for Garnet is set to be just exactly a month later on the Sonoma Coast and just two weeks later down in Monterey. Now…..what to do with it all?…..
Copyright Alison Crowe 2013