We have just started harvesting our Estate Chardonnay (MAP KEY BELOW: Chardonnay is in Yellow). Our Chardonnay is hand-picked over a period of 6 weeks because there is so much variability in our 44 different blocks. The first clone we picked from our estate was Old Wente Chardonnay from our B blocks. We still have some blocks that are only at 16-17 Brix (the percentage of sugar in the berry), and since we usually pick around 23 Brix, we are a long ways out from those being ready.
Deciding on when to pick is always a challenge and this year is no exception. The veraison period was very long so the berries aren’t all ripening at the same pace. It makes finding that optimum day to pick trickier. To help us manage that variability, we are picking in mulitple passes to make sure we are getting the right mix of ripeness and structure.
We hand harvest everything at night, which allows us to bring the fruit into the winery at a very cool temperature. This helps the fruit stay fresh and bright and is more hygienic. Whole clusters are put into a bladder press for pressing, which gently uses the stems of the grapes themselves to puncture the fruit and get the juice out. This process allows for a gentler press, resulting in higher quality juice for making our wine. The juice is then put into a cold fermentation tank for a day. This cold temperature helps delay fermentation and allows time for the solids to settle to the bottom of the tank. Finally, the wine is racked into French oak barrels (20% new) for fermentation.
I'm really excited about the quality of our 2015 Chardonnay, the wines will have nice acidity and wonderful structure.
Steve Rogstad, Winemaker