Journey to Harvest
Victory! 2013 journey completed
Ten months and our Journey to Harvest for 2013 is now complete. Some 150 tons of grapes are now quietly resting in stainless steel tanks and oak barrels, well on their way to becoming great wines. Looking ahead, the 2013 vintage Sauvignon Blanc should be in the bottles and ready to release in March of 2014. The Zinfandel and Merlot should be ready in 2015 or maybe 2016.
In choosing when to release, the issue is the important matter of “bottle shock.” Wine is a very sensitive product and you can easily hurt its feelings. Just think for a few minutes what it would be like if you were a new wine. For months you have been resting quietly in an oak barrel in a dark, air-conditioned, quiet warehouse.
Suddenly the lights are turned on, the doors thrown open and you are forced through one or two filters, then into bottles full of nitrogen, then a cork is jammed into your neck, then you are spun around and labels pasted on front and back. Then you are turned upside down and put into a cardboard box with 11 other bottles, sealed up and rolled down a scary metal conveyor at high speed, caught at the last minute and put on a wooden pallet along with 56 other cases, wrapped with plastic sheeting, loaded on a truck, and hauled off to another dark, air-conditioned warehouse. Finally you are once again alone to lick your wounds and begin recovering from the ordeal. Your managers recognize your condition as “bottle shock.” Depending on your variety, it can take from a few months up to several years to recover from this mistreatment.
The year began with very light rainfall and a resulting early bud break. By the end of May, we were several weeks ahead of normal. Vine bloom time at the end of May had great weather and a very good fruit set. Bloom time was a full two weeks ahead of normal. But then there was a period at the end of July and beginning of August with lots of cold, foggy mornings. Because of the cool summer, picking our Sauvignon Blanc in early September was right on schedule.
However, the continued cool caused a real slow down in maturity of Zinfandel. We finally picked on Monday, Oct. 14, after three or four day's delay waiting for a picking crew from Chuy. Availability of field labor was a problem all during the harvest.
I can sense vineyard spokesvines Marie for the Sauvignon Blanc, and Javier for the Zinfandel, standing behind me wanting a turn at my computer.
Marie's Sauvignon Blanc Report
We vines are really pleased with the way we performed this year with another record crop both in terms of volume and quality. Plus, we picked up a new volume grape buyer. Then we had a great victory as our wine was chosen as the Stanford Alumni Governor's Selection for their annual fundraising event.
And finally, we had a ton and a half of our grapes left hanging that our young winemaker, Grandson Ben, will use to experiment with making a dessert wine. These grapes are still out in the vineyard gradually increasing in sweetness and flavors.
Javier's Zinfandel Report
Our tonnage this year was at an all time high resulting in happy customers and happy accountants. It is pure joy to be out in the vineyard at dawn to watch as gondola after gondola of beautiful purple-black bunches slowly leave the vineyard to be loaded on the giant trucks headed for the winery. We have a hint of sadness as we see these beautiful grapes depart. But again we know they will return to us as great wine.
Old Patron's Report
Yet another year and another “Journey” complete. It seems like forever since we were writing at the start of this Journey in freezing cold January as we began pruning for vintage 2013. Son-in-law/Editor Ed and I would like to personally thank each of you faithful readers for joining us and keeping us company on this Journey to Harvest. And thanks of course to Manager Chuy and his Army. We look forward to having a glass of Vintage 2013 with each of you readers.
Old Patron (aka George)
Owner, Indian Springs Ranch and Vineyards