Veraison, the onset of ripening

I have been away from the keyboard for a bit. In fact, it has been longer than I realized since my last blog post. It is the busy season in the vineyard. You know, that time of year between Valentine’s Day and Halloween. We continue to work the vines, and in the last couple of weeks, we are starting to see veraison in the Sangiovese. Last week, the spousal unit and I rode down to Moon Lake Vineyards, our partner from whom we purchase Tempranillo, to deliver harvest bins. That is right – we are just starting to see veraison at Addison Farms Vineyard, but the Tempranillo is almost ready for harvest. It is nearly impossible to believe there is that much difference, but believe me, there is.

Everything changes, right? It seems this has been a season of change for us. In a span of about six weeks, Dianne and I both went from talking about the ‘day job’ and the ‘weekend job’ to both of us being solely focused on the vineyard. It is a big, exciting, terrifying, freeing step to take. We are thrilled, anxious, apprehensive, and excited to begin this new chapter in the evolution of our farm. At least for now, we are not farmers and [something else]; we are farmers. [cue JK Simmons and the jingle]

The nose of the 1958 Ford Workmaster 601

Enough about us, let’s talk about changes in the vineyard. As of Saturday 6 August, we are at 2397 GDD, compared to 2446 GDD at the same time in 2015. I had written in an earlier post this year that we were looking at one of the coolest years we have tracked, but since that time, the global weather pattern has gone directly from El Niño to La Niña, a rather rare, but not unheard of, phenomenon. Since 1 June, we have had 17 days of 90F or higher; in 2015, we had a total of just 12 days 90F+. And what that means is we flipped from the cooler half of the years we have had the vineyard to the warmer half, and we are closing on being the third warmest year since we started the vineyard. Crazy, huh?

What does this mean for the fruit this year? I don’t really know. A cool start to the season means that fruit set could have been impacted, but it wasn’t. We have some of the prettiest fruit we have seen since we started. The hot weather now is great for sugar accumulation, and the cool nights are great for acid retention. The last few days have been pretty damp, which is less great. We have a whole week of high-probability precipitation in front of us. What does that mean? Same answer – I don’t know.

Over the course of 2016, we have bottled and released some of our 2013 reds. If you remember, 2013 was one of the wettest years in a long time. By 30 June 2013, we had already exceeded average annual rainfall for our area by 3″+[76mm]. At the end of the year, we had a 29.71″ surplus for the year. That is ~700mm of rain over and above our already-abundant 45.57″ [1160mm] average. What did all of that water do to the fruit? It is my estimation that 2013 is some of the best wine we have bottled yet. Others seem to agree because the 2013 Structure [Cabernet Franc] was recently awarded a double-gold medal. Fruit from one of the wettest years on record making wine good enough to get all of the judges to agree in a positive way? How does that even happen? The 2013 Coming Home [Cabernet Sauvignon] brought home a gold medal from the same event. We are really excited about that wine too; it will be released in just a couple of months.

We will soon be bottling our 2013 Tempranillo. It is light, rich, structured, and exactly what you would expect from Tempranillo with cherry and leather notes on the nose. The name is still being developed, but we are excited to get the wine bottled soon.