Harvest Blog - September 1st
Our first grapes will arrive at the end of this week, and with temperatures predicted to rise in the next several days, we’ll be moving fast to hand harvest Pinot Noir from our Santa Lucia Highlands vineyards. As is typical, the first blocks to come in feature the Calera clone, one of my favorites because it reliably produces beautiful small clusters and tiny berries. Though the clone’s yields are typically low, the quality more than makes up for it, generating wines with amazing color, fruit, structure and tannin.
Next week we should be in full fermentation mode. In the winery, we’ll place the grapes into open top fermenters that allow us to do “pumpovers” (a technique akin to stirring a pot of soup) to gently extract color, flavor and tannin as the sugars and yeasts do their work. Because of the coming heat spell, we know the grapes will start to come in waves. We’re ready, knowing we have a good eight to ten weeks of hard work ahead of us.
Still, I don’t know a winemaker who doesn’t love this time of year. It’s the most important stage of the winemaking process, and also the time you can learn the most. There’s just nothing like being able to smell, taste and experience the transformation of grapes to juice to wine, and each vintage brings its own lessons. This will be my 21th harvest in the U.S., and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that every year is different. You just never know what harvest will throw at you, and I love that!
Juan Jo Verdina-Busch
Senior Production Manager | Hahn Winemaker