Enjoy the seventh story from Brittany Komm, Senior Viticulturist for Precept Wine.
“The kids have finally graduated and are headed off to college to become what they are born to be!”
The harvest madness has officially begun, only about a month later than usual. This late start has only added to the stress that many growers and winemakers are already feeling this year. Along with a condensed growing season, we are also seeing higher crop levels. I would not say higher than the average, but definitely much closer to the expected Washington average than the prior two vintages. As a grower, I would not have minded seeing the 2021 tonnages again this year (maybe a tad heavier), but only because of the late starting vintage we are currently experiencing. I have already heard many small-to-medium sized wineries who are purchasing more fermenters so that they can either bring in more fruit or simply just to be able to get all their fruit off the vines before the weather goes south for the year. The 2022 vintage is turning out to be the gift that keeps on giving…
All our harvest team is officially up and running 6 and in some cases 7 days per week to get these grapes off the vines and delivered to what will be their final destinations for the next 8-30 months. Or, as I like to say: “The kids have finally graduated and are headed off to college to become what they are born to be!” These clusters are very much like kids to those of us who work with them constantly: they require a lot of time, attention, and nurturing.
We FINALLY started harvesting Merlot at our Browne Family and Waterbrook Estate Vineyards, located in the gorgeous Spring Valley area of the Walla Walla Valley, on October 17. We have picked in previous Octobers at this location, but never this late into the month. For the last four years the harvest would start in late September here. This year, each October day that passed without picking, the stress and anxiety levels mounted for me and my vineyard foreman Samuel. He has worked at these vineyards since their 2009 origins, and he knows how the weather can quickly turn on this site. Fortunately, Mother Nature was mostly favorable, and she provided us with a pleasantly warm and somewhat dry October–not historically the case.
As I write this on October 31, it is currently pouring rain and we have just finished picking for the day. We were able to get some blocks done before the entire vineyard turned into one big muddy slip-and-slide. We also experienced rain yesterday. This was one of those occasions where my harvest team and I reluctantly chose to pick all day Sunday and carefully tarp the loads to keep them dry until their Monday 5 a.m. delivery. The winemaker approved of this overnight hold since temperatures stayed well below fermentation thresholds. We took further preventative measures by doing sulfur additions at the vineyards, per the winemakers written orders.
At this point, heading into November, we are all counting our lucky stars for no snowfall and no extreme frost events. We are not the only company that has fruit still hanging with full intentions of picking. So, we all continue to keep our fingers crossed (but not too tightly), that the rain will soon stop and that the cold temperatures will stay away for a couple more weeks. Until then, keep us all in your thoughts!
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