So last week the large fruit bins began rolling across town and into the vineyards, meaning Harvest Season 2014 has begun. This means, officially, the lazy lull that is late summer is over, and the busy season is beginning for the wine industry.
We're still in a lull as far as tourist season goes, which is nice after all the busy days of May, June and July. Traditionally, August and February are our slowest months for tourism in this area, which is always nice because we can spend a bit more time visiting with our customers and even heading into the barrel room ourselves to see how the wines already in production are coming along. (The '13 Grenache -- already CRAZY good!) But as harvest rolls along, things will pick up. October will be crazy busy in the tasting room, and so will the holidays.
But for the crew back in the barrel room and out in the vineyards, the next couple of months are when it all happens, and by the time we get busy, they will be mostly done in the vineyard. There are grapes to be harvested, several times daily pump-overs to do in the holding tanks, and other tasks too numerous to mention. So all the winemaking staff that had been hanging out in the tasting room helping out because they didn't have much work elsewhere seems to have vanished overnight. We'll probably see them again at the employee Christmas party.
|Barrel room goings-on|
Harvest begins with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, and then progresses through the other assorted red and white grapes, finishing with Rousanne, which has a reputation for being slow on the vine. Sometimes it's kept folks out in the vineyards until the holidays, but this year we will probably finish up with our harvest by mid-to-late October.
Yet no post about Harvest would be complete without mentioning how early it's been recently....historically early. With the earlier springs (and therefore earlier bud breaks on the grape vines) we've been seeing, the season then is shortened on the other end, which means mid-August -- not October -- harvests. It's something of an alarming trend if you're sensitive to climate-change issues, but of course the wine industry is not alone in experiencing this. You probably have as well, in your own vegetable gardens.
Either way, ready or not, here we go. Another year, another vintage, and hopefully another great group of wines.