2018 Harvest Update: October 6th

Planning for harvest began many weeks ago:  reviewing past sales and predicting future sales; taking stock of existing inventory and grower crop estimates; and matching that to sales and predictions of future sales. There are also considerations of the quality of the crop as it appears (and as we hope as it appears to be developing. These are all moving parts, some subject to rapid change, but they are important to take into account and are the basis for making decisions not only for how much of each variety to take in (fruit-wise), but how we put it to use.

We’re now well past the midpoint of harvest, and while we can’t ignore what is happening in the vineyards, we are also increasingly focusing more on what’s happening in the winery. For the most part, we have had a good harvest, both in terms of quantity and quality. It’s not perfect, of course, and as we move through the season, the warm and humid weather is starting to take its toll on the fruit, with conditions more susceptible to rots showing up and potentially reducing yields and quality. Growers sometimes overestimate the tonnage (it’s not always easy to estimate) in a vineyard and deliver less than anticipated.  The well-laid plans from earlier in the season may now have to be tweaked a bit as conditions and information change to ensure that the absolute best quality is realized for each wine produced, and that we meet our production goals for each wine.

So, now the focus is shifting. We’re still in communication with growers, and still checking on grapes still hanging. But as we bring in more grapes, tanks are getting filled up, and space is becoming more of a premium. We’re starting fermentations in new juices, monitoring existing fermentations, and racking fermented young wines to storage tanks and barrels. Successful winemaking requires flexibility and adaptability, and this is where we are now, adapting the plan to the reality of the harvest, as it’s happening.

In some cases, decisions need to be made with regard to a wine’s style.  For example, a Cabernet Franc vineyard might need to be harvested earlier than we would like, but this will make it good candidate for our (new!) dry rosé in the upcoming year. This will allow us to minimize contact with the skins, which at this point have an abundance of less-than-ripe tannins, and would result in a coarse, overly astringent red wine if we were to make it in that style. Luckily, we have other vineyards with Cabernet Franc that are holding up better for later harvest, and these will be better candidates for our classic Cab Franc traditional red wine and our new Scarlet Kisses ice-style wine.

Looking ahead, the first Vidal will be harvested this week, followed by Catawba. After that it’s mostly reds—the Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmine), Teroldego and Chambourcin—to finish up the year.  Stay tuned!

Bob Green

PIWC Executive Winemaker

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