2013 Harvest is On… by Jennifer
Wentzel Vineyard Harvest 2013

Harvest 2013 at Wentzel Vineyard in Anderson Valley (photo: J. Waits)

Just when 2013 seemed like it would be an uneventful, dare we say, “normal” growing season, we were tossed a few interesting twists. It got me wondering if there really is such a thing as a normal year. Certainly 2013 is less stressful than some other years in which we had atypically cold summers. Rather than waiting and waiting for fruit to ripen this year, we ended up harvesting 2 weeks earlier than last year in some cases. But some of the odd twists include bringing in fruit from our coolest vineyard (always last to pick) prior to fruit from one of our warmer sites.

Our first Waits-Mast harvest of the year was from Wentzel Vineyard in Anderson Valley. In a nice bit of serendipity, we were up in Mendocino County to participate in WineSong and the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir kick-off tasting the weekend of September 7-8. In the course of our vineyard checks that weekend, we learned that we’d be in the area on the day of the Wentzel pick.

Wentzel Vineyard harvest 2013

Wentzel Vineyard Pinot Noir on Day of Harvest 2013 (photo: J. Waits)

After a long weekend of events, we got up early on Sunday, September 8 in order to be in the vineyard in time for harvest. It was a beautiful cool morning during a hot weekend (rumors were swirling that it would be 105 degrees in Anderson Valley that weekend, although I’m not sure it got that hot). The pinot noir grapes looked pristine and tasted great in the vineyard. Brian stepped in and harvested one row of fruit (admittedly the shortest row, as we aren’t anywhere near as efficient at grape harvesting as the crew up at Wentzel Vineyards). After all the grapes were picked (a field blend of Dijon clones), vineyard owner Roland Wentzel loaded the bins in his truck and drove the fruit down to San Francisco. We met him at the winery, hand sorted the fruit (it was a great way to start harvest, as it was the simplest sort ever–fruit was perfect and there were hardly any leaves), had some lunch with friends (thanks for the help on the sorting line!), winery staff and interns, and sent Roland on his way with his empty bins.

Wentzel fruit sort

Sorting Wentzel fruit (photo: J. Waits)

The following weekend (September 14-15) we went up to Anderson Valley and Mendocino again in order to check on the progress of our remaining vineyards. Even though the vineyards are all in the same county, it can be a struggle to visit all of them in one day, given the windy, dusty roads that lead to each destination. Once we made our way through each vineyard, everything looked and tasted great and we started to make predictions about our next harvest dates.

This week ended up being pretty hectic, with fruit from Nash Mill Vineyard in Anderson Valley arriving on Wednesday, September 18, our first batch of pinot noir from Oppenlander Vineyard in Mendocino County arriving on Thursday, September 19, and Mariah Vineyards pinot noir from Mendocino Ridge coming in on Friday, September 20. It looks like everything else will come in late this week, depending on how warm the weather is.

Truck with Mariah Vineyards fruit

Dan Dooling delivers Mariah fruit to San Francisco (photo: J. Waits)

So far, we are quite pleased with sugar levels and with the taste of the fruit. In the vineyards there were some interesting things to note this year. Many of the vineyards had a healthy second crop of fruit and it also wasn’t unusual to spot random miniscule green berries amidst deliciously ripe clusters. We didn’t have a whole lot of sunburned or dried-out grapes and there was minimal mold or botrytris across the vineyards. As we sorted the fruit, we found the usual items in the category of MOG (material other than grapes). Things and creatures spotted included grape leaves, stems, conifer tree leaves, a lovely spray of olive leaves, ladybugs, pincher bugs (much to the dismay of the people on the sorting line when the pincher bugs made their way inside our clothing), moths, and all kinds of spiders.

Within the next day or so we plan to press off the juice from the 2013 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyards. In the meantime, we will eagerly await the trucks arriving in San Francisco with additional grapes from Oppenlander Vineyard and Deer Meadows Vineyard. Hopefully the heavy rain that we received in San Francisco yesterday translated to minimal impact on the vineyards up north. It’s just another twist to this year’s harvest, but all in all, we are thrilled with 2013 so far!


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