September 18, 2012
Winemaker Sally Johnson's Pre-Harvest Notes
On your mark, get set…
We are ready to go! I have just returned full-time to the winery after maternity leave following the birth of my second child, and I can hardly believe my eyes as I walk the vine rows and taste the grapes that are beginning to ripen.
It’s been a near-perfect vintage so far (knock on wood) and the effects are clear: shoots have grown neatly to the top of the upper support wire and then slowed down on their own (a sign that the vines are in balance and there is no excess water in the soil), the fruit is nicely exposed and soaking up every ray of delicious autumn sunshine, and the flavors in the early-ripening varieties such as viognier, chardonnay, syrah, and even some of the merlot, are already coming on.
I am excited about some of the projects that I have in the works for this year. I am continuing my gentle evolution of our viognier program, coaxing the vines to full flavor expression at a lower level of potential alcohol than in the past, and maintaining some of the freshness and acidity that can be lost if the grapes are allowed to soar into the upper reaches of the Brix scale. I will also continue to explore the effects of co-fermentation of syrah and viognier, something that has added exciting nuances of spice and perfume to our 2009 and 2010 syrah wines. Finally, I am experimenting with adding a small amount of cabernet sauvignon to the fermentations of some lots of merlot and cabernet franc. I’ve found over the past two years that the effect on the body and texture of the wine is sometimes greater when the wines are fermented together than when the wines are blended after the fact.
It is always fun to be poised at the starting line, imagining the vintage ahead, especially when things look as promising as they do right now. If you get a chance to visit the winery during the harvest season, be sure to say hi to me and to the wine team out on the crush pad. We always enjoy meeting our visitors, both old friends and new faces.