harvest


Beresini Pinot Aug 28

As harvest approaches, we are taking twice weekly Brix measurements of Bersini vineyard in Carneros–typically, our first vineyard picked.  On August 28, it was at 20.2 Brix.  On September 5, 21.4.  We picked on September 14 last year but due to the general coolness of this summer, the vineyard is about 1 degree and 1 week behind where it was last year at this time.   While the warm weather we’ve had these last two weeks might speed things up a bit, it is still hard to tell.

Last year, Beresini had a smaller than expected yield from our rows and it looks like we may find ourselves in the same situation again this year.  Smaller yields typically mean better, more intensely flavored wines…but it also means less of it.

This past Sunday we participated in the annual Corona Creek Olive Harvest.  Corona Creek, in addition to it’s excellent Pinot Noir vineyard, has an olive grove.  Chris makes the most incredible olive oil out of these olives.

A crowd of about 50 volunteers descended on the olive grove early in the morning and got busy pulling, shaking and generally having a good old time helping Chris, the owner, bring down as many olives as we could before the lunch feast at noon.

Picking olives

Kathryn setting up the olive capturing tarp

Ben 'working'

french baby picking olives

One of the main reasons we elected to source grapes from Corona Creek is due to the fact that it is a small family farm with sustainable practices growing a variety of vegetables in addition to the grapes and olives. In other words, it is far from a mono culture farm.  In fact, it is quite multi-cultural.

In any case, olive picking was a lot of fun.  We met a lot of people from all walks of life.  The kids and dogs had a great time through the trees and the vineyards and we learned a bit about what makes good olive oil while enjoying our fellow pickers’ company. Afterward we enjoyed a lovely meal along with some of Corona Creek’s own Pinot Noir.  To top it all off, a lively singing trio was on hand to entertain the crowd during lunch.

Singing trio

We at Stomping Girl have just gotten through harvest and can finally take a bit of a breather.  Now, mind you, “harvest” means much more than just harvest. The term refers to everything from harvesting the grapes to crushing the grapes to pressing the wine.  It takes about 2 weeks to take one of our Pinots from harvest to press and we had three harvests this year.  Check out some of our photos taken during these last several weeks during Stomping Girl’s ’09 harvest.

We had our first harvest this week for 2009–our Beresini Vineyard Pinot Noir.  The fruit, beautiful, tasty and at perfect Brix (sugar) and pH levels, was telling us it was time to pick.  Those of you in the Bay Area know that Mother Nature was not in agreement, however.  She handed us some rare and unexpected thunder showers just before our planned harvest date. Luckily Beresini is in the Carneros appellation just north of most of the weekend showers that hit our area and with a minor date adjustment, we were able to pick, sort and de-stem the fruit without a problem and under sunny skies.  Uzi was in the vineyard to help harvest and take the video and then met us at the winery with the grapes.

sortingBeresini

Sorting Beresini Pinot Noir

Protective netting around the vines, the sounds of gunshots or recorded sounds of birds of prey are just 3 ways we saw wine grape growers naturally (here are links describing other sustainable farming methods our’s and other vineyards use) protecting their precious crop this time of year.  Birds know when the grapes are ripe and a flock of starlings can clean a large vineyard out in a matter of hours–yikes!  At Lauterbach vineyards, recording devices playing the calls of raptors and starlings in distress are utilized to protect the grapes from birds.   Mr. Lauterbach says they have not had any significant grape loss to birds since they were first installed. The sound boxes, strategically placed around the vineyard, are doing their job quite efficiently. They are hardly noticeable, require very little effort or energy and are pleasing to the ear.  Above you can view a short video (sorry for the amateur nature) of these in Lauterbach vineyard

On a related note, I recently visited the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek with an old friend from high school and our kids.  They have a fabulous collection of live raptors that have been injured in the wild and brought there for rehabilitation and display–these birds are truly incredible to see close up.  It would be great to have live raptors that we could count on to completely protect the vineyards…but, alas, we are happy with the very cool sound boxes in Lauterbach Vineyards that are doing their job.

Live Raptors at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum

Live Raptors at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum

Uzi taking Brix measurements in the vineyard     

Uzi taking Brix measurements in the vineyard

The vineyards in the Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Carneros from which we source fruit look beautiful and the weather has been perfect these last weeks with cool nights and warm days.  Earlier this week we visited each vineyard and brought along our handheld refractometer to measure the Brix levels of the grapes.  The refractometer looks similar to a small telescope.  There is a small glass plate that flips out onto which you place a sample of juice by squishing above it a grape freshly plucked from the vine.  Then you hold it to the sun and the light traveling through the sample in the refractometer is reflected (refracted?) in such a way that a line shadow is formed separating a dark area from a light area.  It is here at the shadow line that the reading is taken.

Our measurements at Lauterbach Vineyard in the Russian River Valley were about 20.5 Brix.  Beresini Vineyard Brix level, in Carneros, is slightly behind at 20.2 Brix.  Corona Creek Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, is farther behind,  as expected, at around 17 Brix.  We shoot to harvest at 24.5 Brix and Lauterbach Vineyard in the RRV will probably be our first grapes to be harvested and brought into the winery in approxiately 2-3 weeks.

RRV grapes at end of August

RRV grapes at end of August

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