Crush 2016, harvesting the Cabernet Sauvignon

We have seen the beginning of the end, the end of warm weather that is. This week [10 Oct 2016] has given us our first mornings of the fall with temperatures in the 40’sF. As I was heading out of the house on Monday morning, I was wearing my boots, jeans, a t-shirt, and a flannel shirt. Dianne exclaimed, “Oh no. Lumberjack season is here. You will look like that until April!” It is a little funny, but only because it is true.

In previous posts, I wrote about heat accumulation. I have become fascinated, I mean completely and utterly obsessed with the weather. The 2016 season has been one that we have not seen before. Prior to 15 June, this year was the third coolest year we have experienced since we began tracking heat and rain in 2009. With the flip directly from El Niño to La Niña in June, this year went from one of the cooler years to the hottest year we have tracked. It took over the number one spot on 13 September and has not looked back yet. As of 10 October, heat in 2016 is a minimum of 102 GDD [base50F] ahead of the next closest year, which was 2010.

2016 Petite Manseng in the press

We finished our harvest this year on Tuesday 20 September with our Petite Manseng. It was a little lighter than forecast, but really close. I tried something new with that fruit this year; we did our first, and likely last, whole cluster press. We use a traditional basket press instead of the more modern bladder presses, and that piece of equipment is not efficient with whole cluster pressing. Even using more pressure than we have used with any other pressing, we were only able to get a little more than half of the juice we would expect from the given amount of fruit. When we removed the pomace ‘cake’ from the press, the clusters in the center were frequently completely intact. It was beautiful fruit and the juice we got was very tasty, but next year, we will go back to crush and destem before pressing.

I can’t say enough good things about the group of folks who helped us this harvest. Kathy and Bistra were with us every day we picked, and Eliza, Ais, Sam, Matt, Jenny, and Wesley were with us nearly every day. Those folks, along with Linda R, Eddie, Maleada, Jerry, Dianne, and yours truly[!] were the bulk of the crew. This harvest season was one of the best, and it was like that because of the great team we had working. Everyone worked hard, and they worked well together. Having a good crew makes the long, hard harvest days a little less long and hard.

Now we start the work of the winter. We will do some repair work in the vineyard, maybe a little bit of bottling, and some of the chores that we just can’t get done in the midst of the demands of the growing season. Eddie and I are going to build a barn this winter; we need a covered area in which to do crush and we need a bit more storage space the rest of the year, so we are going to build a place where we can do that. It is going to require some pretty high clearance, so modifying an existing tobacco barn is out. If we started cutting tier poles, the old barns would collapse; the poles and posts are the structure of those old barns. I think he and I are going to build some farm tables this winter, too, to have in the tasting room. I am excited about both projects. I like working closely with my dad, and we both like building ‘stuff.’