Bam! The Chardonnay harvest is a wrap. We started at 1:00 am and finished up at 6:00. Approximately 17 tons, (Old Wente and Clone #4). Four tons to our neighbors at Argot and the balance for Frostwatch. That puts us on track to produce 780 cases of 2014 Chardonnay, up from 640 cases in 2013. We are pleased because we have struggled to keep up with growing demand from thirsty friends in our largest market - Southern California. More fruit means that we will also be able to make more Ophira, our reserve Chardonnay. Ophira is a blend of our best barrels and usually consists of mostly of Old Wente fruit. Old Wente is an heirloom clone which is characterized by small clusters, small berries, bright acid and big flavors. Unfortunately, this clone is also known for lighter yields. Our two youngest children were enlisted to help with last night’s pick. Picking the two clones back-to-back made it easy for them to recognize and appreciate the difference in taste, cluster morphology and vine yield. We will make aggies out of them yet!
This year’s harvest is early and compressed. With warmer weather it seems that all the fruit is getting ripe at once. Warm daytime temps also mean night picks. The crews are more comfortable, the fruit gets to the winery in good shape and we are almost always at the front of the line on the Crush Pad. Our first pick of 2014 began Saturday at 1:00 am. At 2:30 in the morning we lost one worker to a rolled ankle. The rest of the guys finished up just as it began to get light. We picked five tons of Pinot for Frostwatch and six tons of Sauvignon Blanc - three each Frostwatch and a Ryan Zepaltas project. Our son Alec assisted on this pick before heading off to Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo on Sunday. Looking forward now to getting the Chardonnay off by the end of this week.