While checking sugars on the last blocks of Chardonnay from Lone Oak earlier this week, it dawned on me that we are another step closer to the end of a good harvest. This week, we focused on harvesting and fermenting those remaining blocks of Chardonnay from our Lone Oak vineyard for use in our SLH and Lucienne wines, as well our last Pinot Noir blocks from our Ste. Phillipe vineyards.

We are also hand picking 30 tons of Chardonnay from our Ste. Nicolas Vineyard, specifically clone 4 and 5. Creating a new top component will give us a better understanding of the quality potential of Ste. Nicolas vineyard, as well educating us on a new profile that could potentially enhance our new Hahn Estate Arroyo Seco Chardonnay program.

When working with Chardonnay, there are many ways to produce the wine depending on what your intended goal for the final flavor profile will be. For us, we choose to barrel ferment our Chardonnay program. The reason we do this is to give the wine balance and a full range of flavor. Barrel fermentation creates a rounder, creamier flavor and texture in a wine. This is due to a few factors, one of which is the oak itself. Oak barrels give wines, such as Chardonnay a buttery texture and vanilla-like flavors and can calm the wine’s acid, giving it a softer mouthfeel.

In other areas, our Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Paso Robles are reaching full flavor and color development, telling us they are ready to be harvested. Our Estate Grenache, Syrah and Malbec are showing great flavors and complexity as we are working on a plan to bring in this fruit at some point in the next couple of weeks. We also spent some time bringing in the last Pinot Noir blocks from our Ste. Philippe vineyard.

While we are receiving and fermenting our future wines, bottling has started on the older vintages. This creates a bit of a challenge in the cellar as well as an opportunity to get better. We call it “Tank Chess” which is us making sure we always have enough tanks and barrels for grapes and blending wine. We always try to anticipate what Mother Nature will bring over the next ten days or so, knowing it won’t always go as planned. The production team is fully flexible and ready to adapt on a daily bases to achieve the greatest quality possible from grapes to bottle.

We all know that harvest isn’t over yet, but we are getting closer and closer.

Until the next one,

Juan Jose Verdina