This time of year the vineyard is losing its leaves, the wine has finished primary fermentation and you get a small break to catch your breath and find out if your wine is ready to age. What does that mean? Well, first you have to see if the malolactic fermentation is complete. Then determine the acid profile (pH/TA). Get an alcohol content to pay taxes to the Feds. Finally, taste the wine and see if the oak has incorporated into the wine and you are ready to rack, sulfur and put the wine to sleep until spring.
We are sending off samples this week and will find out our status and make adjustments if necessary. We did a taste taste last night and it is so interesting that the Pommard and 667 clones are so distinct in taste. We think some of it is due to the clonal differences, some from the fact that the Pommard was riper with more raisin’ed berries, and some that the Pommard looked to start fermentation prior to our inoculation with Assmanhausen yeast. The best news is both taste great at this point in time and we will find out in 9 months which is better for the 2015 vintage! I’m guessing for 2014 we will make three Pinot’s…Pommard, 667 and a Reserve wine that is a blend of the two clones. We are really looking forward to our blending party in August!
I moved the wine into our new temperature controlled wine room anticipating the ML had finished.
Wine room temperature/humidity.
Every year we look at what we did the previous year, if it worked, and what to do differently.
We are very happy with the how the 2013 Pinot turned out based on the sampling we did at bottling. I’m hoping it progresses to a wonderfully complex wine in the next 9-12 months.
That said, here is what we did last year and changes this year.
Vineyard – Pick when flavors are optimal, usually around 23.5-24 brix. Mix of Pommard and 667. 2014 – Will ferment/pick Pommard and 667 separately. Depending of flavors we will bottle 1 to 3 wines.
Fermentation – Inoculate with Assmanhausen yeast after 5 day cold soak. 2014 – 7-10 day cold soak and then allow fermentation to begin for 1-2 days before inoculation to allow complexity from wild yeast.
Oak – 1 Xoaker per gallon of wine. 2014 – 1.33 Xoakers per gallon of wine to add slightly more oak flavor.
Sometimes you can plan when to press and pick…sometimes it plans for you. Last week we had a hot spell and the Pinot for Turtle Vines had to be harvested. This week I thought I had another day of fermenting the Pommard clone…but when I checked at noon on the 9/17…it was ready! So…I really should have changed my white hemp shirt…but we just started pulling out and cleaning the pressing equipment. Three hours later we had 96 gallons of pressed juice. On 9/18 I inoculated with malolactic and will rack on 9/19 and add Xoakers (oak balls). The 667 clone will get pressed on 9/19. I think that will go to plan as the temperature had cooled off.
September 2nd, 2014 was the start of our harvest activity. Friends of ours came over and picked 1300 pounds of Pommard (Pinot Noir clone). The next day, with the help of Bernadino, he and I picked 1100 pounds of 667 (another Pinot Noir clone). Then on September 4th, Rob’s crew came in and picked the rest of the Pinot Noir that was sold to Horse and Plow, 5100 pounds. Since my truck and Bill’s trailer only hold 2 tons, I had to make two trips to the winery.
So for those following the last few years…we planted 3130 vines in 2010 and had our first harvest in 2012 of 1400 pounds. 2013 was 5200 pounds and this year was 7500 pounds. Next year we should be close to a fully mature vineyard and will get close to 10,000 pounds.
By the way…a few months ago I predicted 7780 pounds. Pretty close when you add in the 100 pounds I will pick for Rose this week and the 200 pounds I dropped due to mildew damage.
Veraison (or when the grapes turn red) is here!!! It actually happened on July 5th this year. I only count when I see a red grape on a full cluster. Last year it was on July 8th. So when is harvest? Well…in general, it is normally 6 weeks after you get to 50% veraison, or in our case around the time the grapes hit 24.5 brix/taste good/brown seeds. We are 3 days behind for growing degree days from last year, but 3 days ahead for veraison, but have at least 30% more fruit…so my guess is September 15th.
Now for the tonnage…We had a total of 2.6 tons last year. It was split approximately 1.75 tons pommard and 0.85 tons 667. I’m guessing that the pommard is 25% more than 2013 and the 667 is twice what it was last year. So…2.19 tons of pommard and 1.7 tons of 667 for a total of 3.89 tons of Pinot noir. We are going to keep around a ton this year to make ourselves and sell the rest to Horse and Plow Winery.
Follow along in September to see how my guesses hold up.
As vintner Merry Edwards puts it: “There is no other place in the world where all the right conditions converge to create the kaleidoscopic aroma profile and the rich, full texture so recognizable in pinots produced in our appellation.”
The vineyard, as always, has been a lot of work in May. On the 27th we got all the vines in the wires, a second pass of shoot thinning, twins removal and sucker removal. This year it was only myself and Bernadino, so a lot of work.
If you notice in the picture above, the Pommard Pinot clone has gone crazy this year! Some of the shoots are 2′ above the top wire already and I’ll have to hedge very soon before they get out of control. I talked to a few other growers and they all say the same thing…lots of growth. Hopefully it will translate to fantastic fruit later in the year.
Another growing season has begun, our 5th leaf at Turtle Vines! We had bud break March 11, 2014. This is 11 days later than 2013. Why? Our vines are older and we received a lot of rain 2 weeks ago, both contribute to a later start time. So…if the weather is the same as 2013, we will harvest the Pommard clone on September 22 and the 667 clone on September 31.
2012 was our first harvest, and we made wine with the 1190 pounds, which turned out great!
This year we picked 1037 pounds on Tuesday Sept. 10th just for us and our wine and sold the rest of the grapes. The rest we picked on Wednesday Sept 11th. Wilkinson Vineyard Management showed up at 10:15am with 13 pickers. In 1 hour 45 minutes they finished the entire vineyard. They ended up with a little over 2 tons, split 0.8 tons 667 Clone and 1.3 tons Pommard Clone that was delivered to Horse and Plow Winery. So…with both picks we harvested 2.6 tons!
Here is a picture of our truck and borrowed trailer delivering the grapes.
Awaiting the final weigh tag.
Joey harvesting for our wine.
Setting up the destemmer.
First punch down of grapes with 30 ppm sulfur before they get 5 days of cold soak.
I have a few dozen loose cluster Pinot Noir vines in the vineyard (out of 3100). I always wondered what they were. In fact the viticulturist from DeLoach was over last week and he confirmed they were Pinot but didn’t know which clone. So…in researching I could only find one loose cluster Pinot that was available from the nursery where I purchased all the vines…and that is Clone 23, otherwise known as Mariafeld.
I found this description of the vine. “Clone 23 is interesting in that the cluster and berry sizes are much larger than most Pinot clones. It always provides dark colors, very bright, fruity flavors with high acidity.” In addition, due to the loose clusters it is resistant to botrytis and if needed will allow you to let the fruit hang longer on the vine.
So, I think the mystery is solved and it seems to be a very nice addition to the Pommard and 667 Clones at Turtle Vines!
For comparison, below is a normal Pommard Clone. Notice how tightly spaced the cluster is relative to the Mariafeld clone above.
I have learned a lot about Pinot noir by having different clones. The Pommard Pinot noir clone on the west side is very vigorous and seems to grow great. The 667 Pinot noir clone on the east side is not very vigorous and has seemed to struggle since we planted it in 2010.
In many cases a vine that struggles a little is an advantage. If you don’t have a big canopy, you do less work thinning shoots and leaves, and you have less chance of powdery mildew. In a lot of cases it will produce great wine as you want your red wine to struggle to bring out great flavor.
Well, in the case of about 250 vines, the struggle is a little to much and I have resorted to applying organic fertilizer by hand to those vines to help them along. First I marked the ones that were weak (not yet to the second wire) with blue masking tape. Then I lifted up the weed cloth and put 1 pound of Dry Crumbles (organic fertilizer) under the weed cloth and then covered it back up. When we water later in the month it will dissolve and help the vines.
Since it is organic fertilizer, won’t know for a while if it works, but it can’t hurt.