The most exciting time of year has arrived… harvest! The 2019 harvest began on September 13 with all our Viognier fruit and some of our Chardonnay fruit; most of the grapes will be arriving to the winery in October and early November. Watch the video below to discover what we’re up to during the late summer months, as we begin harvesting grapes for the 2019 vintage.
In the Vineyard
Quarter 3 is extremely busy for us in both of our vineyards — our certified biodynamic, 125 acre Purisima Mountain Vineyard in Ballard Canyon AVA, and our 25 acre Thomas and Judith Beckmen Estate Vineyard in Los Olivos District AVA. In preparation of harvest, we’ve been focusing on canopy management, trellis positioning, hedging the vines, and leaf pulling to help with disease pressure and to expose the fruit to sunlight. The combination of all these efforts will help improve the ripeness and overall quality of the grapes as we enter the final stage of the year, the ripening phase.
The grapes have nearly all gone through veraison as we write this letter. Veraison is that beautiful transition from hard green berries to soft, ripe green (for white wines) and red (for red wines) berries. Each of our 10 grape varieties mature at different times and at different speeds, but one thing is certain for all of them: birds and ground squirrels know when the grapes are getting ripe. So, in order to protect the grapes we’ve so carefully cultivated, we put nets over every row of grapevines. We then take samples from each block, testing the brix (sugar levels) of the maturing grapes in anticipation of harvest. Once the grapes reach a certain brix, it’s time to harvest!
Our vineyard crew has now started to work at night and will continue to do so through October. They hand pick the grapes at night for two reasons. First, it allows our crew to work in cooler temperatures, escaping the intense sun and the +90°F heat Santa Barbara County receives this time of year. Secondly, it preserves the quality of the grapes as they arrive to our winery. Temperature has a strong effect on the fermentation process, so we want to start the winemaking process with cool, whole berries that haven’t split open.
In the Winery
In the winery, we blended and racked the majority of 2018 red wines that are aging in oak barrels, creating our final red wine blends from all of the various lots. Our main focus, however, has been prepping the winery, crushpad, and barrel rooms for the upcoming harvest season. We spent time working through our empty barrels, checking the press and other equipment, and deep cleaning the 88 one and one-and-a-half ton fermentors the grapes will be put into.
During harvest, the grapes get delivered to our winery crushpad directly from the vineyard, usually between 8am — 10am. We will process anywhere from one ton per day to 20 tons per day. You will learn more about our winemaking philosophy and processes with the Quarter 4 release!
Posted In:Wine 101