There is the proverbial calm before the storm, read harvest in our case. But nothing could be further from reality. We are quite busy.
Earlier this month we concluded our last bottling before the harvest, and then shifted gears and started preparation for the crush. First, we received our new barrels for the 2023 vintage, and as I write this outside my window are 341 empty barrels awaiting the barrel renewal system called Innerstave. Once the Innerstaves are installed, we will stage the barrels according to the wines that will fill them during the harvest.
After that comes the equipment positioning, cleaning, and testing. Meanwhile the grapes are well into veraison when the red grapes turn from green to purple and the white grapes start to soften and turn a green, amber color. It’s at this time of the year I start to feel like a surfer looking over my shoulder for the perfect swell only to see a tsunami.
Thankfully this year the Big Guy upstairs gave us a late bud break and a cool beginning to the growing season. This slow start has provided us with more time to prepare. Last year we crushed our first grapes, Verdelho, on August 30th. Today, August 22nd, the grapes tested at just 18.7 brix. We like to harvest between 23.5 and 24.0 brix and at an average ripening rate of 1.5 brix per week, we will probably not see the Verdelho until mid-September.
We are between two to three weeks later than last year. And we will use every minute.