ValleyFogBlog


Harvest 2017 is a Wrap by Jennifer

What a strange year. The first Waits-Mast Family Cellars harvest for the 2017 vintage was on September 15 and then we ended up with an 11 day break, while waiting for fruit to develop further. On September 26, we brought in Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc from Mariah Vineyard in Mendocino Ridge. Two days later, we were done; with Pinot Noir picks from Oppenlander Vineyard and Nash Mill Vineyard arriving in the winery on September 28.

Waits-Mast winemaker Shalini Sekhar loads empty bins onto Mariah Vineyards' owner Dan Dooling's truck. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Waits-Mast winemaker Shalini Sekhar loads empty bins onto Mariah Vineyards’ owner Dan Dooling’s truck. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

On the day that our Mariah Vineyards fruit arrived, we ended up processing fruit a little differently than last year. Although white wines typically go straight into the press, we did a quick hand sort of the Sauvignon Blanc fruit, removing some purple berries that were a sign of possible botrytis. Whole clusters of grapes were then loaded into a press in order to slowly squeeze the juice out of the skins prior to fermentation.

Preparing to hand sort Waits-Mast Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Mariah Vineyards. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Preparing to hand sort Waits-Mast Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Mariah Vineyards. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Hand sorting continued with our remaining three lots of Pinot Noir grapes and we were pleased to receive some of the most gorgeous fruit of the year at the tail end of our harvests. Can you believe the vibrant color of the sun-lit Nash Mill grapes in the filter-less photo below?

Waits-Mast Pinot Noir fruit from Nash Mill Vineyard. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Waits-Mast Pinot Noir fruit from Nash Mill Vineyard. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Always on the lookout for MOG (material other than grapes), we mostly pulled out tiny bits of dried leaves from the Nash Mill fruit. We also spotted a number of tiny caper-like green berries here and there and were happy that many of them got caught in the edge of the sorting table, which made it easy to scoop them up before they headed up the “elevator” into the de-stemmer.

Sorting table with MOG (material other than grapes) in tray to the right. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Sorting table with MOG (material other than grapes) in tray to the right. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

Luckily we didn’t see many dried out, raisin-like berries from Mariah, Nash Mill or Oppenlander Vineyard. In fact, it was more common to run across fruit that hadn’t completely changed color, including some secondary growth. The greenest, most tart Pinot Noir berries were pulled out, with the remainder heading for the de-stemmer before the journey to fermentation bins.

So with that, another harvest is completed! But, the winemaking is now kicking into high gear. Fermentations and pressing matters are ahead. The Sauvignon Blanc is in a stainless steel tank fermenting away and we are days away from pressing our first Pinot Noir lot, which means we will have that fruit heading into barrels next week.

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