The Carneros Vineyard is in full bloom and early stages of fruit set, where the fertilized flowers turn into grape berries. Bloom this year has been running about 2 weeks to 18 days ahead of last year which portends an early start to harvest. In other words, the cellar crew should not be planning any labor day festivities. The Brandlin Vineyard on Mount Veeder has just begun bloom in some of the blocks, but is typically 3 weeks or so behind our Carneros Estate. Otherwise it’s been a stress-free year so far with no frost or strong disease pressure. The biggest worries have been the relative dryness of the year and the strong presence of gophers, voles, and deer wanting to munch on our vines.
(Left to right: Luciano Armellino, Steve Rogstad, John Smylie, Nicole McLean, Carol Klincke, Steve Richards, Merritt Woodington and Jay Schuppert)
This photo was taken last week at our Brandlin Estate Vineyard atop Mount Veeder.
Cuvaison President Jay, Winemaker Steve, National Sales Manager Steve and CarrieAnne helped immerse our five new additions to our national sales team, introducing them to Cuvaison’s culture and philosophy.
Help us give a warm welcome to Luciano, Carol, Nicole, John and Merritt!
This team represents in total, well over a hundred years of wine industry expertise that is sure to get Cuvaison and Brandlin wines onto more of your local fine wine shops and favorite restaurant’s wine lists.
Right now, it's cold and wet in our vineyards. Pruning is in full swing, and our committed vineyard crew is braving the elements, while expertly grooming the lifeblood of the 2012 vintage; our vines.
For the cane-pruned blocks, this years’ canes are being selected while unwanted wood is being trimmed away. In the spur-pruned blocks, initial cuts are being made and the unwanted wood pulled out of the trellis wires. Final cuts will be made closer to budbreak, which usually occurs in March. Canes will be tied to the fruiting wires sometime next month.
With the recent rains, we're also hurrying to capture irrigation water to use for this year’s vintage!
"Another late harvest kicked off in a small way for Cuvaison on the 21st of September, with fruit just trickling in over the first four to five days.
It ramped up in a big way when long range forecasts predicting rain firmed up early last week. We have been pulling in fruit as fast as we can. For example, on Sunday we crushed a record 57 tons of Pinot Noir and 60 tons of Chardonnay. Thus far we’ve done, 313 tons of Chardonnay (estimating another ~160 still to pick). Ninety seven tons of Pinot Noir, and 8.6 tons of Sauvignon Blanc.
Yields have been quite low, and there has been a real concern about the rains. We’ve been using the Pellenc Optical Sorter again this year (or as National Sales Manager Steve Richards calls it, “the Pedunk a Lunk”) to great effect, and it has been a life saver in terms of processing speed.
The light rain produced 0.22 inches of rain so far, with more expected through Thursday. High pressure will then fill in, but it does appear that our winter cycle may be beginning, or - “Welcome to California, it’s the new Oregon.”
Along with the Chardonnay, we still have our Merlot and Syrah, as well as all of Mount Veeder and Bald Mountain yet to come… Hopefully the sun will dance for us over the next three weeks and we will get it all picked in good shape.
Lastly, we did press off the first fermentor of Pinot Noir today, and it is mighty tasty, with good color and extract… boo yaa!
Cuvaison interns are organized by CAEP (a host organization that connects students and professionals with global paid internships). The applicants specify what they want to learn, the varietals they are interested in, the region of California they want to work, and the size of winery they are interested in.
Cuvaison’s Assistant Winemaker Matt Sunseri, receives the applications and selects candidates based on their profile and interest in winemaking. On occasion, candidates may choose the winery they are most interested in working at.
This year’s harvest interns each hail from very different places around the globe, yet they share a unifying interest in learning more about winemaking and improving their English, except of course for Josh the Australian, who already speaks English. .
Meet Our Interns!
Eleanora from Italy
Ines from Uruguay
Firmin from France
Josh from Australia
When asked what they anticipated to be their greatest challenge while working crush, each intern shared a unique response. Ines’ concern is on learning new lab techniques, while Eleanora dreads washing tanks. Josh is concerned with driving on (what is to him) the opposite side of the road, and Firmin is concerned with his ability to communicate in English.
All of Cuvaison’s interns are excited to experience harvest in Napa Valley. It will be fun to see how their relationships evolve and what new insights they have to share in the weeks to come.
Winemaker Steve just announced harvest starts tonight, 1am!
We try to engage our Facebook fans whenever possible - and last week we offered our fans an opportunity to ask any questions they like. We think this particular conversation between Larry (fan) and Steven Rogstad (our Winemaker) is worth sharing and hope you learn something new!
Cuvaison's Winemaker, Steven Rogstad has started a team for this event and is recruiting teammates! Click here to see who's signed up, how much money the Cuvaison team has raised, or to join our team!
What is the Echelon Grand Fondo? "It is a series of European style mass participation cycling rides (Cyclosportif rides) held on epic courses in destination locations." And it's coming to Napa Valley on May 23, 2010 benefiting LIVESTRONG and both The Queen of the Valley Medical Center and The Saint Helena Hospital located in the Napa Valley, California.
Whether you are a professional cyclist or a casual rider, this event has something for you as there is a 30, 60, or 100 mile road cycling option! The race starts in downtown Napa at 8:30AM. Click to learn more»
Don't own a bike? No problem, there is a 5K Run/Walk too! Click to learn more»
Can't make it to the event? Then help us by donating to this great cause! Click here to donate to Steve's Team»
We hope to see you out there, whether you are biking, walking, or cheering along side us!
2008 Sauvignon Blanc
From a single small parcel planted to the renowned “Musque” selection of Sauvignon Blanc, our Estate SB is a distinct expression of Carneros. The cool climate and limiting soils that typify Carneros temper the natural vigor of Sauvignon and produce intense flavors of honeydew, lichi, kiwi and lime. Chilled by morning fogs and buffeted by afternoon breezes the skins thicken and the berries concentrate producing a richly scented and densely packed SB. Tank fermented and sur lies aged, this wine is bottled shortly after harvest, without malo-lactic fermentation, to fully capture its aromatic intensity and bright acidity.
2008 Pinot Noir Carneros
An unusually cool spring gave way to a gorgeous Summer in ’08, with an even, temperate growing season. Crop size was quite small and when the heat finally did arrive, it got things jumping in the winery in a hurry as we rushed to pick the Pinot Noir before dehydration could set in. Once in the fermentation vats the pure fruit and lush flavors quickly began to reveal themselves. A classic Carneros Pinot, the 2008 is brimming with fresh berry and strawberry fruit, while the general coolness of the season is revealed in the intriguing lime and orange zest notes lurking in the background. Texturally the wine is quite focused with fine, firm acidity giving away to supple tannins and sappy fruit. This wine should drink beautifully over the next 3 to 8 years.
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder
Deep hued tones of mocha, coffee and boysenberry jam leap from the glass. The touch of Malbec intensifies the fruity/floral aroma as the wine warms your taste buds and the silky, plush tannins coat your mouth. The forbidding slopes and free-draining soils have done their work, concentrating the fruit and focusing the tannin of this mountain grown Cabernet. It showcases the best of Mount Veeder, dense, jammy fruit backed by fresh acidity and epic tannins.
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One of the occupational hazards of winemaking is being asked, repeatedly, what the vintage is like before it even happens. It’s like a college freshmen pretending to know what he’ll major in…hmmm, Electrical Engineering, only to matriculate with a degree in Abnormal Psychology 6 years later.
So, like Carnac I’ll try and get straight to your most burning questions:
Answer : When they are ready.
Question: When will you start picking the grapes?
A view of our 2009 Pinot noir, clone 115. The fruit has finally colored up and is uniformly dark, always a promising sign…
Actually, the other super cool omen that harvest is about to begin…
I snapped this photo of a Red Tail hawk diving through the Pinot this foggy morning and it reminded me of the other Red Tail that signals harvest…
Yes, it takes a lot of good beer to make good wine and this morning’s sighting of the Hawk foretells a pending harvest of excellent quality. The sparkling wine makers have begun pulling in the first loads of fruit, which typically start about two to three weeks before we get going. Pinot noir is coming on fast and we could start pulling that in as early as the 8th of September, though I suspect most of it will be the week or so after. Chardonnay will start in earnest the week after that and continue through most of October.
Of more interest will be the Brandlin harvest on Mount Veeder. Given the relatively cool growing season we would expect the Cabs off the mountain to be quite late, but some years, when the cool air settles into the valley at night, it stays warmer up in the hills and the vines push through a bit earlier. As I follow the weather forecasts, like a hawk (sorry, couldn’t resist), the early trends seem to be favoring this phenomenon, which could put the Cab fast on the heels of our Pinot Noir.
Next week the harvest interns start arriving from the four corners of the earth to scrub and polish the winery in preparation for harvest! I will be keeping you all updated via our amazing new blogosphere with even better photos then can be had from my cell phone…