Last Friday we brought in the last of our Pinot Noir, a few tons from Ste. Nicolaus in Arroyo Seco. Finishing the Pinot Noir is always a milestone of harvest, a sign that we’re well over halfway through. There’s a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. This week we also finished picking ten acres of Syrah from our Hook Vineyard in Santa Lucia Highlands, and we brought in the rest of the Chardonnay from Ste. Nicolaus. We expect to pick the Chardonnay from Lone Oak, our coolest and northernmost vineyard, on Friday. After that we’ll set our sights on the later-ripening reds: Malbec, Grenache, Merlot and Cabernet.
The weather has been sunny and clear but also noticeably cooler in the last week or so, particularly at night. I get a little nervous about frost this time of year. It’s not an issue in the vineyards we’ve already picked, which includes nearly all of our estate properties, but in the ones that still have fruit, freezing temperatures can cause the foliage to die, which can slow or prevent further ripening. People like me (i.e. farmers) are pretty fanatical about the weather year-round, but this is a particularly sensitive time. And guess what? There’s an app for that!
It’s called Weather Underground, and it allows me to access weather
data on a highly granular level by tapping into personal weather stations tracked by the app’s network. You know the weather maps we see on TV with temperatures assigned to each city? The app is kind of like that, except that I can zoom in and see what the temperature is, in real time, in a much more defined area. This is useful because even vineyards within the same appellation can have different microclimates due to geography and topology. The app allows me to track the temperature in each of the vineyards where we still have fruit, and to see if there’s a danger of frost. We haven’t had any yet, but believe me, I’m keeping an eye on it.
Patrick Headley, Director of Viticulture