The sixth story from Miriah Falce, Enologist at Cairdeas Winery in the Lake Chelan AVA.
August 2022: A blur
As the great Taylor Swift said , “August sipped away like a bottle of wine…”. Who else feels like this month FLEW by? We’re entering the last big stretch before harvest over here in Lake Chelan and across the state.
Last reported at the end of July, we were in the lag phase of growth, or the period of pause. Seeds were growing and acids and tannins were reaching their peak while the berry was about half of harvest size. We stayed there through most of August, which showed us we were still a few weeks behind.
On August 22, after scouring the head-trained Syrah for the indicative color change of version, I found it in two lone plants!
We are officially in Stage III, where we have color change and softness. The berries will begin to rapidly grow again and sugars will accumulate, which we will begin to test as the next month progresses to determine when grapes are ripe and ready for harvest. Anthocyanins and flavor compounds will be increasing as time goes on as well. White varietals can be a little more difficult to tell initially since there’s not a drastic color change, but they become more translucent in the sun and can more golden. Within 7 days, what started as just a handful of pale and purple berries, quickly becomes widespread and in every vine. Walking through the rows and the explosion of purple pops in your peripheral vision. Last year we had verasion on August 6th, so we are about two weeks behind. More praying that the weather stays nice and we’re able to make it to a later harvest!
August was a bit of a waiting game, and at the very end of the month once we saw verasion we did a quick hedging as we prepared for the next steps!
You can tell from the graph that we have definitely made up GDD days and we’re not as cool as the ‘cool’ year anymore, but as we’ve reported throughout the season we’re still behind due to that cold start in the Spring. Luckily we’ve had warm temps the rest of the time to keep pushing us forward but not quite enough to get us to where we’ve been in other years. But hey, that’s part of the fun of it! Stressful and interesting… yes. But it would get a little boring if every year was exactly the same. August 26 of this year we had 2189 GDD. The cool year of 2011 was 1732, and last year in 2021 we were at 2752.
One of the great winegrowing aspects of Washington is known as diurnal shift. That is the change in temperature between the daytime high and the nighttime low, and can range from 30-40 degrees. As I’m writing this, we have a bit of a cool front coming in with a high of 88 and a low of 50 for about a 38 degree difference. We have one of the most dramatic diurnal shifts of winegrowing regions, with the warm long temps helping with ripening and flavors and the nighttime cools locking in the acids.
We haven’t had too much going on this month. We’ve done some bottling prep which will occur in At the beginning of the month we crossflowed the last of our wines to prepare them for bottling. We prefer crossflowing over pad filtering because of the gentleness of the process. Pad filters can also strip out color and flavor, two important qualities, while crossflowing does not. Crossflowing sends the wine across a porous membrane which clarifies the wine and makes it microbially sound. The photo below is not mine (Tim Vandergrift, My Life in Beverage Alcohol) but it shows what a basic pad filter looks like and how many the wine must cross over during the process- it’s a lot of pads that absorb everything even the good. The pads also take extra time to be prepped, and at the end upon removal are sopping and heavy. The photo on the right is the crossflow that we use!
I am working on making Italian wines and am currently studying for the Italian Wine Scholar, so I participated in a Piedmont tasting with friends to gain some knowledge on that region (and also threw in the 3 wines I made to get a little feedback). After that I celebrated Diffraction Day at Cairdeas, which is when we release our 2021 Diffraction red and rose. This is the one day of the year you can get it in the tasting room and it’s paired with some amazing pizza, it’s always a fun event. I think I’ll explain a little more about the winemaking behind those specific wines once harvest starts and we create the 2022 vintage!
After that we headed to Seattle for the Auction of Washington Wines! We went early for the Toast event, an inaugural evening with various categories and nominations across the state. Our owner Lacey along with fellow ambassador Sadie were two of the nominees for Emerging Leader, and hearing the speeches throughout the evening was so inspiring and stoked the already burning fire under me to keep working hard and continue working with programs like Breaking Ground, the Alliance of Women in Washington Wine, Washington Wine Technical Group, and more to keep advancing our state’s industry.
The following day, coworker Kai and I worked the Roam & Pour and got to walk around the grounds of the Ste Michelle estate sharing our Nellie May and Counoise with those in attendance. It was SUCH a fun evening and not only did I get to socialize with wine lovers from around the state, but catch up with industry colleagues and meet many new ones.
We had our Cairdeas team barbeque, with the theme of Rhone vs Rhone Inspired. Charlie picked some of his favorite Rhone wines that inspired our Cairdeas wines, like the Caislean An Papa and Nellie Mae, and we got to have a fun evening together as a team eating, drinking, and playing petanque all evening.
Other than more boating days and enjoying the last bit of summer here in Chelan… that’s a wrap on August!
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