August 29, 2016 / Napa / Harvest 2016
This is a question that I have encountered my entire winemaking career. My response usually runs along the lines of, “When they are ready. That, my friend, depends on the cultivar of grapes you are growing, the vineyard (& all that entails- location, soils, topography, microclimate, trellis type…) and the style of wine you want to make.” Knowing when to harvest is where science, art and intuition driven by experience intersect like Eulerian Circles. For Nicolette Christopher Cabernet Sauvignon the objective is to produce a wine with balance, elegance, purity & restraint so I make the harvest decisions accordingly. Depending on the weather conditions during the growing season I generally begin field sampling fruit in early August and run chemical analyses & some physical measurements to get a baseline set of analytics. Chris, Gracie and I will walk the vineyard rows every week to monitor the vine’s canopy, the integrity of the clusters, overall vine health and to taste the fruit. I will repeat field sampling clusters and use the results as a guide to assess the ripeness level of the fruit and corroborate the crop estimate. As we enter the end of August and get into the month of September keeping a close eye on the weather patterns, the availability of the vineyard team to harvest our fruit and fermentor space at the winery is on my “radar”. Being a winemaker during harvest is akin to being an air traffic controller –communication with crews both “on the ground” and “in the air” is crucial for a successful landing!