Updated 2011-09-02 16:10:16 ID=651:0

© 2011 The Romantic Table
©2009 The Romantic Table 2009-02-17 09:52:55:123
©2009 The Romantic Table

Larry McGourty writes about wine and food

2011 Harvest Season Just Around The Corner

We are watching the Brix levels in the vineyard, and the higher elevations are coming on strong. We already see some levels in the low 20's -it looks like in a week or two we will begin harvest at the higher elevations of the vineyard.

Like last year, the local vineyards are running behind time for a typical harvest season. Not that anyone really knows what typical is anymore given the last half decade of strange weather we have had. No doubt 2011 will go down as either just another anomalous year, or the beginning of a new climate trend of wetter winters and cooler summers.

This year we were off to a slow start with cool temperatures and late rains -it seemed like we would never stop mowing! And then there was the late spring frost. It took its toll on the lower elevation areas of our Sangiovese. Luckily the elevation of our vineyard is pretty high so we were not as affected as some of lower elevation vineyards in our area as well as the westside vineyards along the Highway 46 corridor. Everything else seems to be OK. Our grenache, which we thought had been trashed by frost looks like it is coming through relatively unscathed, as well as our Port varietals and Zinfandel.

We literally had only a handful of days so far where the temperature broke into the century mark. The somewhat cooler summer temperatures are actually not so bad. Besides being down-right comfortable for humans, without the extreme heat can we typically get at season's end, it gives the grapes a little longer time to mature without the physiology of the grapes shutting down. We are getting a nice extended maturation time where all factors which contribute to the flavors of grapes (hence the wine) are getting a chance to reach optimal levels in conjunction with sugar development.

The opposite situation is when we have conditions of extreme heat just before harvest, the grapes begin to dehydrate and we get artificially elevated sugar levels without complete fruit maturation. To me anyway, the resultant wine tend to be heaver, less aromatic and "jammy." We manage around that situation as best as we can with extra watering etc... but it so much better when nature cooperates and works with us -not against us.

This is all theory of course. But, since 2011 working out to be so similar to 2010, the 2010 vintage release should give us some indication of what to expect this year.

We are not quite "out of the woods yet" so to speak. The cooler the season, and the longer the season gets delayed, the greater the chance of frost damage.

Yup, there is no doubt about it, the wine Ag industry is one of the few where its farmers can really use a shot of the final product at the end of a "typical" season!

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