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Paul Clifton
 
October 14, 2021 | Paul Clifton

Harvest Blog - Oct 14th

I don’t want to jinx it, but I have to say the pace of harvest this year has been ideal. With near perfect fall weather, we’ve been able to cherry-pick which vineyards, blocks, and clones of Pinot Noir we harvest as the grapes reach absolute ripeness. And while the yields we’re getting are a bit lower than we’d like, they’re not as low as we anticipated. By the end of the week, we’ll have brought in the last of our Lucienne Pinot Noir from our Santa Lucia Highlands vineyards. Then it’s on to Chardonnay.

Unlike other growing regions in California, it’s normal for us to harvest SLH Chardonnay after SLH Pinot Noir. Our Pinot Noir vines don’t set a big crop, the clusters are smaller, and the fruit ripens more quickly than Chardonnay. Plus, Pinot Noir is more susceptible to heat spikes, which can dehydrate and shrivel the grapes. Chardonnay, with its larger berries, can handle more heat and hang time. That said, we have brought in a little bit of Chardonnay from our newer plantings in Hook Vineyard; the small amount of fruit on these young vines ripened at the same pace as the Pinot Noir. 

But the bulk of our Chardonnay is still out there. In the Santa Lucia Highlands, we wait not only for the sugars to rise but the acids to fall. If we picked our Chardonnay too early, the acid in the wine would rip the enamel right off your teeth. We have to be patient because the cool nighttime temperatures here slow the respiration needed to bring the grape acids down. In a few days, I anticipate the acid levels in our Chardonnay will be ideal.

In the cellar, several lots of our SLH Pinot Noir are already dry and resting in barrels. Others are still fermenting, but I expect those fermentations to wrap up by the end of next week. The wines we’ve pressed so far look really good. Great color, beautiful aromatics, classic SLH Pinot Noir. Again, not to jinx it, but 2021 is shaping up to be a fine vintage.

Paul Clifton
Director of Winemaking

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