Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mid October Harvest Update

We are into harvest in earnest now and sugars and acids are perfectly balanced, but we are not to the more difficult varieties yet. Already off is Merlot, Chardonnay, and Gew├╝rztraminer. Other than a weekend of rain, the weather has been benign to almost helpful. Grapes always taste better harvested in sunshine. Chardonnay 23.2 brix, pH 3.4 with tons of tropical fruit. Some of the best I have ever seen. The Merlot is fermenting nicely and you'd swear we put sweet cherries into the bins. The fruit is incredible. Malbec comes off tomorrow. It tastes great on the vine. What with 2581 growing degree days, I think we are already beyond veg and we still have 17 more days in the season.

Although there has been frost between the rows, the temperature at vine height has been in the high 30s. We don't have wind machines in our vineyards, so we depend on the benign weather of the Rattlesnake Hills. We are forecast for the mid to lower 30s with lots of sunshine for the next seven days.

I noticed on another blog that Elephant Mountain and Dubrul both have harvested Merlot, but listed it as Yakima Valley fruit. Not a good year to ally yourself with Prosser Flats. Both vineyards are in the Rattlesnake Hills. I am not aware of any Merlot being picked down in the valley yet. We purchased some grapes in 2005 from the Faire Acre mother block above the Roza Canal east of County Line Road just east of Bouchey Vineyards. Sagebrush Ridge had 2514 growing degree days in 2005. The wine was so vegetative that we could not bottle it under the Bonair label, so we sold it to Joel Tefft for his box wine. He complained it was the worst vegetative bulk wine he had ever purchased, but he was able to blend it away and we are still friends.

With all the wet weather, bunch rot has cut the crop, but is not a problem since we selectively hand harvest. It has shown up in Riesling (always), Chardonnay (rare), and Pinot Noir (rare in eastern Washington). Pinot Noir is a thin-skinned, tight cluster variety. I wonder how the boys down in the Willamette Valley are faring?

Here are the Growing Degree Days:

AVA

8/31

9/30

10/14

Rattlesnake Hills

2264

2475

2581

Yakima Valley

2044

2241

2321

Horse Heaven

2410

2629

2736

Red Mountain

2428

2643

2735

Walla Walla

2220

2432

2536

Ripening Bordeaux Reds in the Yakima Valley is going to be problematic.

There was fog in the foggy bottom today. Without wind, it can get deeper every day. We have wind in the forecast so it should remain sunny.

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