I sometimes visualize harvest as a bell curve: it starts out slowly, builds to a peak and then gradually drops off. If harvest is a bell curve, I’d say we’re almost to the peak in terms of the grape tonnage we’re bringing in each day. It’s been very busy.

The secret to a successful harvest: Teamwork!

We are well into picking Pinot Noir from our Santa Lucia Highlands estate vineyards. Hook Vineyard is complete, Smith will be done next week, we’re still picking Doctor’s and we brought our first Pinot in from Lone Oak, our northernmost vineyard, yesterday. We’ve also brought in some Pinot Gris from Lone Oak, and a few tons of Cabernet Sauvignon – destined for Smith & Hook – from our Southern Monterey County growers. We’ve also begun harvesting several blocks of our Arroyo Seco vineyards, which will come in quickly over the next few days.

Since the last heat wave, we saw cooler weather for ten or so days which avoided the scenario of vines shutting down. This happens when prolonged heat makes it difficult for the vines to take up water and can result in grapes drying out and shrivelling up. However, the vines and grapes recovered nicely; the clusters’ grape stems (known as “rachises”) were still green, which means they were able to pick up small amounts of moisture. Now, after the heat increased again this week, we’re seeing beautifully ripe grapes with excellent sugars and crunchy, brown seeds – one of the signs we look for when determining the time to pick. It’s go time!

Pressing SLH Pinot Noir

Since we still have Pinot Noir hanging on the vines, we extended the contract with our falconer for another two weeks. It’s a relatively small crop this year, and we can’t let the starlings and blackbirds fill their bellies on our grapes! Kathleen Tigan owns her small business with her husband, and though another couple of weeks means she can’t return home (she camps on our property) she says she doesn’t mind. She
loves it here.

Patrick Headley, Director of Viticulture