Saturday we went out to check on the Crimson Clover Vineyard and the Chaine d'Or vineyard. At Chaine d'Or the red grapes are finally starting to turn colors. It's too late. They need at very least 45 days after they complete the change before harvest, and we've found 75 is really ideal to get the grapes properly ripe. Right now that will put the harvest date at December 15th. The plants will have shut down and lost all their leafs well before that date.
That means no Cabernet from Chaine d'Or this year. The Chardonnay is in a little better shape but still suffered a great deal of sun burn. It looks like we'll try to pick what we can around the 1st of October. There is probably only enough to make a single barrel. That will make wine making really hard as we won't be able to use any of the chillers in the tanks to get the wine to settle and keep it cool. There just won't be enough volume to reach up to the cooling jackets on the tanks.
Crimson Clover looked much better and we took a few pictures. In 2008 we harvested here on Sept 28th and in 2009 in was Sept 29th. This year it looks like we'll pick around October 20th, or almost 4 weeks later. The crop load looks good and the vineyard is clean. We did a little leaf pulling to help fight mildew and everything is coming along well.
The clusters are larger than they've been the last couple of years. Tasting the grapes we could tell they were not close to ready yet. The flavors are past the green stage (green bean and bell pepper) but just now in the red fruit stage. We will want to wait for plum, black cherry and berry flavors to show up. The tannins also are still very astringent and will need more time to soften.
We did pull samples off and Stefania ran BRIX tests on the juice. She used a refractometer and hydrometer and the readings from both were 20.2 We'd like to pick between 23.5 and 25, although we've usually picked this particular vineyard higher in the 26-27 range. You can see the juice is pink still and not showing ripe color.
All this means we have a lot more time to go. Stefania thinks it will be even later than the 20th. We'll start to taste test now pretty regularly and watch the weather closely. We definitely will not be picking in September this year though.