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

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2008 Crush Continues with Hein and La Encantada Vineyards by valleyfog
October 17, 2008, 9:36 am
Filed under: Winemaking | Tags: , , , ,
Here come the Hein grapes...watch out!!

Here come the Hein grapes...watch out!!

On Monday, October 6, our grapes from Hein Vineyard in Anderson Valley and La Encantada Vineyard in Santa Rita Hills came in for sorting. We were all a little worried about the rain that had passed through during the previous weekend, but the grapes looked very good upon arrival. The showers had cleared up around midday Saturday, so the grapes had a couple of warm (and windy in some locations) days to dry out. The timing of this harvest is an interesting contrast to the early September harvest for Amber Ridge. When these wines finally get bottled (patience, my friends) it will be fun to try all three side by side and enjoy the differences in location and climate (among other components of terroir).

Check out these beauties. Pinot Noir clusters from Anderson Valley.

Check out these beauties. Pinot Noir clusters from Anderson Valley.

Luckily for our schedule, grapes from Anderson Valley and Santa Rita Hills came in on the same day, so we rolled up our sleeves to sort through a couple of tons of grapes. Luckily, we had some help, all the way from Chicago. John Baglivo is also making wine with La Encatada grapes and he had just arrived from the Windy City to do his sort, too. For Hein, we sorted through a half ton of 115 clone and then a few pounds of Pommard clone. We’re looking forward to seeing the results of this co-ferment blend, as we haven’t used a Pommard clone before. Pommard can impart a more robust, fleshy characteristic, while the Dijon clone 115 tends to be lighter and brighter.

Getting our hands dirty on the line with some gorgeous La Encantada fruit.

Getting our hands dirty on the line with some gorgeous La Encantada fruit.

We sorted through two bins of La Encantada, but it went quickly because the clusters were almost flawless. Small clusters and small berries and little to no raisins and no sign of mold. The only real interlopers were some pincer-bugs, a stink bug and a drunk bee. We survived unscathed! The clones we sorted for La Encantada were Dijon clones 777 and 115. Again, 115 is a bit brighter, usually showing more red fruit like strawberry and cherry, and 777 tends to display more dark berry and have more structure and tannin going on.

All the while, we were being filmed by Carol, a videographer for Crushpad. After the sort, she sat down with Jennifer and me for a brief interview about our wine and why we are addicted to winemaking. Keep in mind that it was late in the night and I didn’t have all my speaking points prepared! Jennifer, of course, was charming and adorable. Also, the sound isn’t great because of the background noise at the winery. But enjoy nonetheless! Stay posted to this blog for updates on our 2008 wines and other happenings at Waits-Mast.



2008 Harvest: the First Crush by valleyfog
September 8, 2008, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Winemaking | Tags: , , , , ,
Harvest is here and we just finished our first crush (well, actually, my first crush was probably back in second grade, but I digress). This year, we are making Pinot Noir from three different vineyards, from North to South – Anderson Valley in Mendocino, Russian River Valley in Sonoma and Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara. Given the slight differences of climates, the grapes are coming in at various times during the traditional harvest period (late August through late October.) 
 
Brian and Jennifer on the sorting line back in 2005 for our first crush with Amber Ridge

Brian and Jennifer on the sorting line back in 2005 for our first crush with Amber Ridge. That's Michael Brill, CEO of Crushpad, in the back, adjusting the webcam.

The first batch of grapes to arrive is from Amber Ridge vineyard in Russian River. You may have heard of Amber Ridge before, as a select number of producers in Sonoma, reputable names like Kosta-Browne and Siduri, are making Pinot Noir from this vineyard based in Windsor, south of Healdsburg. We got in on this little secret early and made our inaugural vintage with Amber Ridge Pinot Noir grapes in 2005. The nose is redolent of classic Russian River sweet cherry. The aromatics really do capture you and lure you into the wine. The palate brings home that candied cherry along with a warm five spice and a touch of vanilla on the finish.
 
We went a couple of years without Amber Ridge and really yearned to produce another vintage. So with some pleading and cajoling, we were lucky enough to get in on the 2008 harvest. With higher temperatures later in the summer, the 2008 harvest came in a little early on September 3rd and the clusters were small to medium and looked beautiful. We remember our first crush in ’05 when we had to pick out clusters with moldy berries, but this time around it was pretty clean. The process moved along pretty quickly. Jennifer and I got up on the sorting table with some folks at the winery and quickly sorted through bunches of grapes, pulling out shriveled up berries and any extraneous leaves, before they went into the destemmer.

2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir clusters on the sorting table

2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir clusters on the sorting table

 
Sometimes you add whole clusters, which are the berries and stems intact,  direct into the cold soak and fermentation to add tannins and structure. The stems were green (for whole cluster, they should be brown), so we decided against throwing in any whole clusters to avoid any green or herbal flavors.  The berries tasted great and seem like they have a tough enough skin to carry some tannin into the wine. The sugar level at picking was 28 Brix. The bunches we sorted included both 115 and 667 clones, so hopefully we’ll be able to do a little blending of both of these clones as we get towards bottling next year.
 
For now, the grapes are enjoying a nice little cold soak and will soon go into a warm fermentation for another 5-7 days until the sugars have been turned into alcohol. Then we’ll be ready for pressing. We’ll keep you posted on the 2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir’s progress, as well as the other upcoming crushes for La Encantada and Hein vineyards – likely late next week or the following.

Jennfier and Brian on the line, Sept. 3, 2008

Jennfier and Brian on the line, Sept. 3, 2008