ValleyFogBlog


2008 Harvest: the First Crush by valleyfog
September 8, 2008, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Winemaking | Tags: , , , , ,
Harvest is here and we just finished our first crush (well, actually, my first crush was probably back in second grade, but I digress). This year, we are making Pinot Noir from three different vineyards, from North to South – Anderson Valley in Mendocino, Russian River Valley in Sonoma and Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara. Given the slight differences of climates, the grapes are coming in at various times during the traditional harvest period (late August through late October.) 
 
Brian and Jennifer on the sorting line back in 2005 for our first crush with Amber Ridge

Brian and Jennifer on the sorting line back in 2005 for our first crush with Amber Ridge. That's Michael Brill, CEO of Crushpad, in the back, adjusting the webcam.

The first batch of grapes to arrive is from Amber Ridge vineyard in Russian River. You may have heard of Amber Ridge before, as a select number of producers in Sonoma, reputable names like Kosta-Browne and Siduri, are making Pinot Noir from this vineyard based in Windsor, south of Healdsburg. We got in on this little secret early and made our inaugural vintage with Amber Ridge Pinot Noir grapes in 2005. The nose is redolent of classic Russian River sweet cherry. The aromatics really do capture you and lure you into the wine. The palate brings home that candied cherry along with a warm five spice and a touch of vanilla on the finish.
 
We went a couple of years without Amber Ridge and really yearned to produce another vintage. So with some pleading and cajoling, we were lucky enough to get in on the 2008 harvest. With higher temperatures later in the summer, the 2008 harvest came in a little early on September 3rd and the clusters were small to medium and looked beautiful. We remember our first crush in ’05 when we had to pick out clusters with moldy berries, but this time around it was pretty clean. The process moved along pretty quickly. Jennifer and I got up on the sorting table with some folks at the winery and quickly sorted through bunches of grapes, pulling out shriveled up berries and any extraneous leaves, before they went into the destemmer.

2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir clusters on the sorting table

2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir clusters on the sorting table

 
Sometimes you add whole clusters, which are the berries and stems intact,  direct into the cold soak and fermentation to add tannins and structure. The stems were green (for whole cluster, they should be brown), so we decided against throwing in any whole clusters to avoid any green or herbal flavors.  The berries tasted great and seem like they have a tough enough skin to carry some tannin into the wine. The sugar level at picking was 28 Brix. The bunches we sorted included both 115 and 667 clones, so hopefully we’ll be able to do a little blending of both of these clones as we get towards bottling next year.
 
For now, the grapes are enjoying a nice little cold soak and will soon go into a warm fermentation for another 5-7 days until the sugars have been turned into alcohol. Then we’ll be ready for pressing. We’ll keep you posted on the 2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir’s progress, as well as the other upcoming crushes for La Encantada and Hein vineyards – likely late next week or the following.

Jennfier and Brian on the line, Sept. 3, 2008

Jennfier and Brian on the line, Sept. 3, 2008

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