ValleyFogBlog


Autumnal Leaves and Winesong as Harvest 2017 Nears by Jennifer

Our house is finally cooling down to the 70s after several weeks of hot September weather in San Francisco. It has been much the same up in Mendocino County, although there are already signs of fall, with a smattering of leaves starting to change color in the vineyards.

Leaves changing color at Oppenlander Vineyard on September 9, 2017. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Leaves changing color at Oppenlander Vineyard on September 9, 2017. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

While up in Anderson Valley and the Mendocino-area for the Winesong tasting events last weekend, we did our final pre-harvest check-ins for the year at our Waits-Mast Family Cellars vineyard sources. The hectic (but fun) few days started with the Winesong Pinot Noir Celebration in Little River, California on Friday, leading into the Winesong tasting at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens on Saturday. Our wines were well-received and I was particularly pleased to hear from one taster, “this would be my porch drink,” when referring to the 2016 Waits-Mast Sauvignon Blanc. Perhaps my favorite quote of the day was, “that’s a Renee drink,” because it left me wondering about the back story of this mysterious wine drinker.

Mr. and Mrs. Andiron at Wine Song 2017. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Mr. and Mrs. Andiron at Wine Song 2017. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

After wrapping up at Winesong, we quickly changed into vineyard-appropriate shoes before heading out to see the fruit at Oppenlander Vineyard in Comptche. During our afternoon visit it had cooled down to about 77 degrees near the vineyard and the vines seem to be surviving the recent hot weather. Although we’ve heard about sunburn and raisins in vineyards in other areas of California, the fruit was looking and tasting great at Oppenlander with only minimal shrivel.

Oppenlander Vineyard on September 9, 2017. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Oppenlander Vineyard on September 9, 2017. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

On Sunday morning we made the long trek up to the 2300 foot elevation Mariah Vineyard in Mendocino Ridge. Even more leaves were changing color in the vineyard than we’d seen at Oppenlander, yet that was coupled with some patches of green pinot noir berries amid the ripening fruit.

Mariah Vineyard on September 10, 2017. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Mariah Vineyard on September 10, 2017. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Further up the vineyard, we spied the Sauvignon Blanc berries glistening in the sun and were grateful that in 2017 we are making our second white wine from this fruit.

Sauvignon Blanc berries at Mariah Vineyard on September 10, 2017. Photo: J. Waits

Sauvignon Blanc berries at Mariah Vineyard on September 10, 2017. Photo: J. Waits

We then dashed to Anderson Valley to visit Nash Mill Vineyard, where we also spotted some beautiful autumnal colors, as some of the vines were changing to lovely shades of yellow, orange and red. Despite the signs of fall, it was still hot in the vineyard and was around 92 degrees when we stopped by around lunch-time. Fruit is at varying stages of ripeness depending upon the rows and we are guessing that harvest is about a week away for Nash Mill.

Nash Mill Vineyard on September 10, 2017. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Nash Mill Vineyard on September 10, 2017. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Although some friends have already completed harvest 2017, we have yet to begin. Everything is about to change, though, with our first pick just days away. After walking the vineyards, tasting the berries, monitoring sugar levels, freaking out about weather (luckily the dramatic thunderstorms and rain in San Francisco on Tuesday didn’t translate to a deluge up north), consulting with growers, and tackling a myriad number of logistical questions (winery schedule, location of our pick bins, harvest crew availability, transportation for the grapes, etc.), we are fairly confident that we will be seeing our first grapes in the winery (from Wentzel Vineyard in Anderson Valley) in San Francisco by Saturday.

Wentzel Vineyard on August 27, 2017. Photo: J. Waits

Wentzel Vineyard on August 27, 2017. Photo: J. Waits

This will place this year’s Wentzel pick smack-dab in the middle of our 2016 harvest dates (September 5 and September 21) for the same vineyard. Although we originally thought 2017 would be about two weeks behind 2016, the recent high temperatures and dash of rain are having an impact on the ripening. As always, we are left to wonder, “is there a normal harvest?”

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