Wednesday, September 09, 2015
At TWWIAGE the Chardonnay harvest is already complete. On Monday the first Cabernet Sauvignon (CS) reserve grapes (clone 15) were picked. September 7th is a very early date on which to have already started to bring in CS, considering that in the relatively cool growing season of 2011 that TWWIAGE did not finish harvesting CS grapes until November 4th. On Tuesday TWWIAGE picked both Merlot and Sauvignon blanc - the first time ever that red and white grapes had been brought in on the same day.
Even here in chilly Coombsville (remember, Vinomaker calls it The Tundra), Far Niente have already picked their vineyard that is closest to Vinoland: the eastern block was harvested in the early hours of Monday morning and the western block in the early hours of Tuesday morning. It looks like the vineyard manager at Far Niente opted to once again hand-harvest their Chardonnay grapes. Last year (photographed on September 19th 2014) the western block was machine-harvested which, at the time, I surmised might have been an experiment of a sort.
Machine harvesting is very efficient, as it can save a lot of time and it can be very economical (less payroll). However, machine-harvesting is very tough on the grapevine and, in my opinion, can cause more trouble than it's worth. Machine-harvesters pick every, single last grape off the vine; they also harvest small rodents, old bird nests, little snakes, lounging lizards, curled up caterpillars, etc., etc. (Not just earwigs, Thud.) Collectively known as MOG, material other than grapes, all that detritus has to be sorted out from the grapes before the fruit is fit to be turned into wine. Not to mention that, because the berries are more roughly handled, there is more rupturing and subsequent juicing which can be a big problem with white grapes (think, oxidation). And leaving the rachis on the vine can promote grapevine diseases like a possible early season Black Rot (Guignardia bidwellii) infection. I could go on, but I won't because I don't have that much time before Vinoland's grapes are ready for harvest.