Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 Harvest Update

We are just beginning to see some colored berries in our 5-acre block of Mourvèdre here at Edward Sellers, which means the onset of berry ripening (véraison) is finally commencing. From a winegrower’s perspective, that means harvest is within sight.

If we agree that organisms big and small are concerned with propagating their species, then for a grapevine the period up until now has been about protecting its grapes until the seeds are mature enough for dispersal by birds and other animals. This helps explain the production of astringent compounds known as tannins, as well as the synthesis of tartaric and malic acid. Foragers rarely return to hard green berries that pull all the saliva from their mouths.

During veraison the grapes will grow and soften as they accumulate sugar and begin to synthesize the color pigments known as anthocyanins (for red varietals) and volatile aroma compounds (for white varietals). Tannin and malic acid levels will decline. Simply, the grapes are becoming more attractive and more palatable.

The cool 2011 season has kept our focus on vine balance. In a normal year for high quality grapes we ask each vine to hang roughly four pounds of fruit. But 2011 is not a normal year. In April, two consecutive days of frost severely reduced the number of Grenache clusters we could expect, and the low temperature has continued through the summer thanks to a trough on the coast that just won’t go away.

We’re spending many hours in the vineyard looking closely at each vine’s strength and its ability to ripen fruit before autumn rains arrive, and we’re articulating our farming based on our observations. As usual, we’ve made a green pass, dropping fruit from weak shoots, but this year we have been more aggressive. We’ll make another pass at about 75% veraison, dropping clusters that have not colored up. This year we’re also doing a bit of origami, cutting some shoulders and tips of those clusters that are too big and heavy.

Come cool weather or warm, our vines should be in fine shape at harvest to deliver grapes with plenty of stuffing and poise.

Jeremy Weintraub, Winemaker


Anonymous said...

Wow, finally something interesting!

colinasvit said...

Way to go Jeremy. I hope your Harvest is a good one.

Derek Cronk
Colinas Farming Co.
Rutherford, CA