Grenache sun side vs shade sideFolks are starting to pick for still wine already. I’ve seen some trucks on the road, and posts to social media showing some Napa Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc coming off the vines. Yesterday folks posted some Pinot noir picks, but I’m sure at least half of it was for sparkling wine. On the other hand, at Westwood we are still weeks away.

I took our first grape sample of the vintage on 8/16, in the young-vine clone 90 Pinot. Saw some basal leaf yellowing and tasted some pretty ripe berries showing the beginnings of seed maturity (crunchiness). Sugar went 21.8° Brix on that sample, which—at “normal” rates of ripening—puts us 2-3 weeks from picking that block. As an indicator of how scattered things are this vintage, Cathy Corison tweeted on 8/21 that she has Cabernet at 22° Brix!

Today I had Kyle sample our block of Calera Pinot. Berries are tasting less ripe than the clone 90—the Calera Pinot seeds are incredibly bitter just now—but the skins are showing softness and releasing from the pulp (another sign of ripeness). That sample showed 20.4° Brix, 4-5 weeks from harvest.

Since Bedrock Wine Co. is buying some Grenache from us again this year for rosé, and Morgan Peterson wants the fruit at 19.5°-21.5° Brix, I thought I would grab a sample even though the block is not yet all the way through veraison. The refractometer tale: 15.0° Brix. So, hey Morgan! We’ll be delivering in a month.

The picture leading this post is of our Grenache, and shows a phenomenon I have observed every year in this variety. The fruit on the shady (morning) side of the canopy always colors up first, leaving the fruit on the sunny (afternoon) side behind. Sunlight on the clusters appears to inhibit veraison. For this reason, you can see we only pull leaves on the morning side of the canopy. Yes, I geek out on this stuff.