Our vineyard sampling in August and early September indicated that we would be ready to harvest during the third week in September.  I set everything up with the vintner and the vineyard manager and made travel arrangements.  On the Friday before, I landed in Sacramento in a driving rain storm.  The heavy rain lowered the sugar significantly, so harvesting of the entire 24 acre vineyard was delayed at least a week.  Over the next week or so, many growers began dropping 10-30% of their grapes to the ground to get sugar levels up.  However, our vine-by-vine sampling over the weekend told us that we would probably be OK for our small one ton harvest, if we selected the grapes carefully.

The four of us (Jeff, Ken, Sandy, and Luis) began picking about 7:00 am on Tuesday morning.  We hand selected the best clusters from only the oldest vines (35 years).  Yield was about 5 tons per acre, so we picked from about a quarter acre.  To maintain our target sugar level of 25-26 brix, about every 5-10 bins, I checked sugar levels with a refractometer and steered the picking away from areas with lower sugar.  Sandy meticulously sorted all the MOG (material other than grapes) and bad berries from the clusters.  We finished about 10:30 and delivered 1.1 ton to the winery by 11:00.  Crushing was complete by 2:00 pm.  The average sugar of the must was a perfect 25.5 brix. 

September 24, 2013

2013 Harvest