2145 and Counting

2145 and counting. That is the number of growing degree days in the Oakville area of Napa. We are sourcing grapes from Stagecoach Vineyards in the Atlas Peak area of Napa Valley. Their growing degree days would be slightly different. We heard from Dave  Zuchero, winemaker at Tin Lizzie Wineworks in Clarksville, Maryland, that the expected time of harvest for Cabernet Sauvignon at Stagecoach Vineyards is the first week of October. Dave cautions us that the time frame needs updated. This aligns with the approximate time that growing degree days will reach around 2400, a measure of the time needed for Cabernet Sauvignon to be near ripeness. Of course there are other measures that vineyard managers will use to determine when a grape is ready for harvest: the level of sugar, acid levels and phenolics.

We are sitting on the east coast closely watching the weather on the west coast hoping the rains will hold off for another month. Our last California grapes we used for winemaking was harvested in 2009. That year was similar to this year, however, much of California received several inches of rain prior to the Cabernet Sauvignon harvest. Growers did leave the grapes hang a while to loose some of the absorbed water. We ended up getting the grapes the last week of July.

We learned of another experience of the damage rain can cause. We visited a Pennsylvania Winery, Nimble Hill Vineyard & Winery. We stopped by the vineyards where the vineyard manager, Gary Toczko, and winemaker, Kevin Durland, were leaf pulling the leaves around the Riesling fruit. Both commented on last year’s rain train. This is the same rain train that ruined our grapes in Maryland. Gary mentioned that they lost most of their crop. An inch of rain is not a big challenge. Several inches to a foot or more is however. Right now, we are just a couple weeks away from the possibility of a vintage year for Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon. For the next few days the weather forecast has the chance of rain at a low range from 0% to 6%.


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