Harvest 2018 is almost behind us. We had a less-than-forecast quantity of fruit, but the fruit we did get was surprisingly good. This year, 2018, will end up being first or second since we started the vineyard in total rainfall. Our other really wet year, 2013, ended the year at just under 75” of total rain, and as of 29 Sept, we are just slightly under 55” for 2018. “Normal” rainfall for a full year is about 45”. To me, the 2013 vintage was much better than I had thought possible. In fact, we just released three of them this year, and they are showing really, really well, if you will forgive my seeming immodesty.
The biggest difference between 2013 and 2018 is in the heat accumulation. This year has bounced around a good bit as far as heat goes, but it is the warmest year we have tracked, ahead of the previous hottest year 2016 by about 40GDD. Not a huge difference, but when we are talking about 2016 being by far hotter than any other year, it means something.
We did not see quite the amount of bird damage we had in the vineyard last year. Max the Vineyard Dog has not yet lived up the ‘vineyard dog’ part of his name, but we tried a BUNCH of other techniques. This year, we deployed bird distress sound machines, but I think we were a little late getting them out there. They need to be in place just before or, at the latest, just after the first signs of veraison. We hung CD’s, cardboard, and pieces of aluminum as scarecrows. We even put a 3D coyote in the vineyard, moving him at least twice per day. I don’t know if he startled any turkey, but he gave me a start every time I saw him!
We have had some crazy, crazy weather in September. Hurricane Florence really did some damage east of us, and she did cause a little loss in the vineyard, but we were very fortunate to not be impacted like our eastern neighbors. We did not have our first sub-80F day in September until 15 September! Of the first 14 days of September, only three were less than 84F.
We are trying a couple of new techniques in the cellar too. No promises on the final result, but we are making a sparkler this year from Sangiovese. It is not the ‘normal’ variety for sparkling wine [Champagne is exclusively made from one or more of these three: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier], but we think the acidity and notes will make a nice and worthwhile sparkler. Time will tell, but we are excited to experiment.