ValleyFogBlog


2014 Harvest Begins by Jennifer
September 15, 2014, 12:01 am
Filed under: Events, Winemaking | Tags: , , , , , ,
Wentzel Vineyards Pinot Noir arrives

Wentzel Vineyard fruit arrives

It’s only mid-September and we are more than halfway through harvest at Waits-Mast Family Cellars. In addition to being in constant communication with our growers and our wine making facility about pick logistics, we’ve also been out doing tasting appointments, pouring at events, and scrambling to buy more barrels to hold our increasingly growing production (we plan to surpass 500 cases this year!). Our first harvest of 2014 was at Wentzel Vineyard in Anderson Valley on September 4. We greeted grower Roland Wentzel when he delivered the fruit to the winery in San Francisco that evening (after braving city traffic jams) and then raced home to pack for a trip up to Anderson Valley and Mendocino the following day.

Waits-Mast Family Cellars at Wine Song 2014

Brian setting up at Winesong 2014

Amid the craze of harvest we poured at two Winesong events in the Mendocino area that weekend. On Friday we shared our wines at the Pinot Noir Celebration at the Little River Inn. It was a cool day on the coast, making for perfect Pinot Noir weather. That afternoon we took the opportunity to check in at Mariah Vineyards in Mendocino Ridge, as grower Dan Dooling had told us that the Pinot Noir fruit looked ready. After walking through the vineyards at dusk and tasting a selection of berries, we affirmed Dan’s assessment and eagerly awaited a pick date (which turned out to be three days later on Monday!)

Mariah Vineyards

Mariah Vineyards at Dusk. September 2014.

Despite the drought, Mariah Vineyards looks surprisingly lush. As Dooling explained, after decades of dry farming, the vines exist happily on the mountainous site without irrigation.

On Saturday morning we got up early to set up in the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens for the food and wine tasting event at Winesong. Although the morning started out cool and foggy, by the middle of the event we were being pelted with sun in our spot beneath a Rhododendron tree. Luckily everyone was in good spirits, sampling a wide range of delicious treats and beverages.

Oppenlander Vineyard

Oppenlander Vineyard. September 2014.

After the tasting we drove up to Comptche to take a look at how the grapes at Oppenlander Vineyard were progressing. As with our trip to Mariah, it ended up being a beautiful time to visit in the late afternoon. As we were leaving, we could see fog hovering high in the sky towards the coast. Although not as far along as the fruit at Mariah, the Oppenlander Pinot Noir was already tasting quite delicious.

Nash Mill Vineyard

Nash Mill Vineyard. September 2014

We would have loved to have taken in all of the post-Wine Song winery open houses on Sunday, September 7th, but we had two more vineyards to visit. After leaving the Mendocino area, we drove south to Anderson Valley to see Deer Meadows Vineyard and Nash Mill Vineyard. With less than two days to go before its Harvest Moon pick at Midnight on Tuesday the 9th, Deer Meadows definitely looked ready. Nash Mill was further behind and we are expected to pick there this week.

Pick bins at Deer Meadows Vineyard

Pick bins at Deer Meadows Vineyard in Anderson Valley

As expected, the Mariah and Deer Meadows picks happened last week and I was at the winery in order to help hand sort the fruit. Everyone at the winery commented on how pristine the Pinot Noir was from both sites, leading to very easy sorts for both. We pulled out an occasional leaf or twig and a very rare raisin or under-ripe berry. I was also happy to see that thanks to a new sorting table at the winery, bugs and spiders weren’t as evident on the table. In past years we’ve dealt with many more spiders and pincher bugs, but most of them are now being caught before they hit the table. Our friend Chad from Furthermore Wines stopped by as we were sorting Deer Meadows fruit and he saw the lone lady bug of the day, pronouncing that it was “good luck.” With harvest off to such a great start, I couldn’t agree more.

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