The thrill and angst of harvest is in the air! The valley is filling with pick-up truck and tractor buzz. Crews are filtering in and out of the vineyards applying bird nets, removing green, lesser ripe clusters from grapevines (“green drop”), and winemakers are tasting and sampling and are eager to set the pace for the new vintage. Grapes are “coloring up”, flavors are evolving, and many of us are picking for sparkling wines – a wonderful “warm-up” event – which are harvested at a much lower sugar level than still wines…typically 17-18 Brix, compared to 21-25 Brix. We had our first pick on Friday!
Our vineyard and winery equipment has been inspected and fine-tuned. Our bin dumper is on the forklift, and our 2012 Fiddlestix Pinot is racked and resting in barrel. The picking bins are being cleaned, our press and fermentation vats are being cleaned, new rubber boots have been ordered and we are breaking in our seasonal harvest cellar rats. And to top it all off, we entertained with our final pre-harvest event …WINE and FIRE in the Sta. Rita Hills this past weekend! Whew!
It has been a curious growing season, with the lack of rain having the greatest impact. In 2013 we received only 6.9 inches of rainfall at Fiddlestix. For comparison, in 2012 we got 13 inches, 32 inches in 2011 and about 28 inches in 2010. The dry growing season means necessary micronutrients typically carried in the water are less available to the plant, resulting in grapevines that struggled with shoot growth. Stunted shoots don’t have as many leaves for photosynthesis, and therefore can ripen only a smaller crop. Thank goodness for irrigation as we were able to replenish many of the micronutrients that were missing from our normal rainfall. As the season has progressed, we now have a relatively even canopy which helps promote even ripening within a vine row.
We love visitors in September, but beware…we may give you a pair of rubber boots and put you to work! Night harvesting starts at 2 am! But we throw a heck of a lunch party for our harvest crew.
Cheers to vintage 2013!
The average time an American lays down a bottle of wine is about half an hour, but for those of us who appreciate the age-ability of our magnificent wines it is important to store them properly.
During the summer months the heat is a constant battle, and many people do not have the luxury of an expansive underground cellar to keep their precious bottles protected.
So, when you are considering where to store your wine, keep the following factors in mind…
1. Temperature – The most important thing to avoid is temperature fluctuations – a constant 68°is better than a 50°, then 68°, then 50° cycle. The ideal wine storage temperature is 55-60°F with a variance of a few degrees. High heat can accelerate the aging process of wine, transforming your beauty into a “cooked” wine.
If a wine cellar or basement is not a possibility, the next best solution is a wine refrigerator. They come in a variety of price ranges and sizes and if kept in a cool place in the house, can keep overall energy costs down. If your refrigerator is full, then choose the floor of an interior closet (remember, heat rises).
2. Light - Wine gets its structure and flavor profile from organic compounds. UV light can damage those compounds altering the flavor structure of the wine. Most wines are bottled in dark glass to help protect it from UV light (similar to sunglasses protecting your eyes), but light can still penetrate even the darkest tinted bottles.
Direct sunlight should always be avoided, but over exposure to fluorescent lights could also be damaging to a wine. To avoid the light, consider the position of your wine rack relative to your overhead light or windows. Consider storing your wine in boxes or in a cabinet.
3. Humidity - this is a major factor when storing wine with a cork closure. If the cork dries out, it shrinks. This can cause leakage and can allow exposure of the wine to air, “oxidizing” the wine, resulting in a wine with a distinct “sherry-like” taste and odor.
Ideal humidity for wine storage is around 70%, but we also recommend that you store bottles on their side or upside down in a cardboard box to keep corks moist.
We want every bottle of Fiddlehead you open to be an enjoyable experience and we hope these tips help ensure perfect quality of every bottle.
Happy Summer Sipping ! !
Have you ever wondered what happens once our Sauvignon blanc grapes are picked in the Vineyard and
delivered to our Cellar? Here's your chance to get a "behind the scenes" look at what goes into making a bottle
of our "Happy Canyon" Sauvignon blanc. Click the image for an expanded view and printable pdf.