I’m back after a lengthy sabbatical away from this blog, but with grapes arriving momentarily, it seems both meet & fitting that I once again enter the word fray, & otherwise resuscitate this business.
So where are we with the 2014 harvest? As noted above, today it starts, August 20, 2014. Clay Selkirk (he-who-actually-does-the-wine-work-while-I-watch) & I have been commenting on how unusually early the harvest will be this year. Yet looking back at 2013, I see that last year we actually received our first grapes on August 19th, or one day earlier than this year.
Looking back some more, I also note that we were essentially done with the 2013 harvest on September 25th, while in earlier years we typically saw a major part of our grapes arriving right on through October & into early November. In 2011, for example, we received our first grapes (Petite Sirah) on September 26th, with the last of the crop (some Cabernet Sauvignon) coming in on November 11th.
Today’s first pick of the year is Malbec from the Kirk-Landry vineyard . . . lovely dry-farmed grapes. How does this harvest date compare for Kirk-Landry Malbec over the past several years?
In 2011 the Malbec was picked on October 3rd, October 28th, & October 31st.
In 2012 the Malbec was picked on September 9, 11, & 13, or about a month earlier than 2011.
In 2013 the Malbec was picked on August 23rd, 26th, & 27th
In the words of that squeaky folksinger, “the times they are a-changing,” or so it seems, but then weather is cynical, while climate is cyclical, or so they say.
In any event, the vines look great & the fruit tastes grand despite the very early harvest. All the more remarkable since the vines are “dry-farmed” (i.e., not irrigated), as compounded by the undeniable fact that we are in our third year of drought . . . or is it the fifth year. Can’t remember.
And here come the grapes! I must pause this writing for the taking of photos so that I can chronicle the day’s effort in film . . . bits & bites, actually.
First you have Clay, Jimmy & the grapes. Jimmy is working with us for the season:
Clay dumping Malbec into a screw-hopper that feeds the clusters into our destemmer:
The destemmer is aptly named because it coincidentally separates the berries from the stems. Here naked stems are seen being ejected from the machine:
And here you have an almost full bin of berries sans stems, with an empty bin lined up & ready to be dragged under the destemmer:
Six bins of whole clusters become one bin of stems:
Dumping to tank:
And that’s that, so where’s the beer?