Counting Down the Days to Harvest 2014 by Jennifer

It’s the calm before the storm, as harvest is imminently approaching for Waits-Mast Family Cellars. It’s looking like our first pick of the year will happen in just a few days, with other picks soon after. This will all be unusually early for Mendocino Pinot Noir. But because of the drought and a warm winter, budbreak was early. This, along with a moderate growing season is driving an earlier harvest.

A week ago we went up to Anderson Valley and Mendocino Ridge in order to check in on the vineyards from which we source our Pinot Noir grapes and things were looking and tasting great already. Here’s a quick glimpse of what’s happening at four (of our five) vineyard sources:

Wentzel Vineyard, Anderson Valley: Our first visit on the weekend of August 23, 2014 was to Wentzel Vineyard in Anderson Valley. We initially starting working with this vineyard in 2007 (the wine was our first commercial release) and after a short break, have been making wine from Wentzel every year since 2010. Pictured below is the section, dubbed Le Clos, from which we have primarily been getting our grapes. It features a field blend of Dijon clones of Pinot Noir and is located in a lovely, enclosed sloping section of the Wentzel property. It looks like this will be our first pick of 2014, with fruit coming in any day now.

Wentzel Vineyard

Wentzel Vineyard, Anderson Valley


Deer Meadows Vineyard, Anderson Valley: Following our visit to Wentzel, we journeyed to Deer Meadows Vineyard in Anderson Valley. Located at 1600 feet, in the hills above Boonville, Deer Meadows is farmed by Rich Savoy. We made our first wine from this vineyard in 2009 and after a few years off, we we happy to resume in 2012. It was hot and dry in the vineyard during our visit and the fruit was tasting great already. In our block of 115 clone (it’s always exciting to see our initials on a vineyard row post), the clusters are small with small to medium-sized berries. We’re sensing intensity of fruit afoot.

Deer Meadows Vineyard, Anderson Valley

Deer Meadows Vineyard, Anderson Valley

Mariah Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge: Our third vineyard visit on August 23 was to Mariah Vineyards in Mendocino Ridge. Quite a drive from Anderson Valley, the vineyard is on a beautiful mountain site at 2400 feet. Although we’ve bought fruit from Mariah for the past few years, we haven’t released any of the wines just yet. Planted by husband and wife team Dan Dooling and Vicki Tomola, Mariah is also home to several other varietals (including Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc), with Pinot Noir a relatively new planting for them. The Dijon 667 and Pommard fruit, on vines grafted onto Syrah rootstock, was looking luscious during our visit. After checking on the vineyard, we poured our 2012 Pinot Noir from Mariah Vineyard to get Dan’s reaction to our first vintage. He was pleased, as were we, with the wild berry mountain fruit and white pepper aromas. We’re looking forward to releasing it this fall.

Mariah Vineyard

Mariah Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge

Nash Mill Vineyard, Anderson Valley: On August 24th we made our final vineyard visit for the weekend. We checked in at Nash Mill Vineyard in Anderson Valley. The newest vineyard for us, we only starting buying fruit from Nash Mill in 2012. Our first release (actually, still a pre-release!) from there, the 2012 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Nash Mill Vineyard is already garnering fans, so we are excited to continue making wine with this fruit. Nash Mill is a cooler site in the Deep End of Anderson Valley, so some of the grapes were still going through veraison (changing color). This vineyard normally ripens later, in early to mid October, but given they way things are going this year, we expect the fruit to come in within the next two weeks. Stay posted for more updates on these vineyards and Oppenlander Vineyard in Comptche – when it rains, it pours!

Nash Mill Vineyard

Nash Mill Vineyard, Anderson Valley


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