Hi all

Well – its over. We finished harvest yesterday (Friday) evening. We picked the entire vineyard of its grenache, which turnbed out to take us just about 2 1/2 days.
The crew was a bit larger for this effort, as you can see – we were about 18 total. We started on Wednesday morning with the old vines to the north of the house, and worked our way around the vineyard. By mid-morning Thursday, we had picked the older grenache for the ‘Cuvee’ , crushed it into the middle tank (cuve 3) and moved on to pick the rest.

At day’s end on Thursday it looked like we had just about a day’s work ahead. And then DISASTER. We had a horrendous thunderstorm that hit late Thursday afternoon – right after we were done for the day. By 8:30 pm, it had mostly passed – but in the 2 hours or heavy heavy rain it left the vineyard with standing water!!! Not a good thing. So we called all the pickers and told them to wait – that it wouldn’t be until at least the afternoon, and maybe we would needs to wait for Saturday…something nobody wanted with grapes in the tank. Fortunately, dawn came, and with it some sun and the Mistral wind. By 10:00 am, as we walked the vineyard, it looked like it would be OK to pick that afternoon, so we called everyone in after lunch. The folks really got into it, and they ended up picking the rest of the vineyard Friday afternoon – though it took about an hour and a half extra to get it done…but it was done!
And today, all the grapes are in – the Cinsault rose has completed fermentation, and is now resting awaiting the grenache for assembling into the final blend.
The special ‘Cuvee’ is in tank 3 and fermentation is well under way. We are ‘pumping over’ twice daily at this point, and using water cooling to maintain temperature for the right flavors.
The Cotes du Rhone grenache – the last to be picked – is just starting fermentation in its tank – so pumping over won’t start for a day or so.
We did, however, saignee (bleed off) the grenache today – taking juice out of the larger tank, without skins – to make the grenache portion of the rose. This small amount of juice, like the cinsault, will be fermented seperately, and cooly, to retain its fruit characteristics. Its in the little tank all by itself for now. Once its finished, including settling and racking, then we’ll add it to the cinsault and assemble the finished rose – according to how it looks and tastes.

All in all, harvest went really well. For my first time at this, I thought I did OK. We got all the grapes in – the various tanks are fermenting – and we haven’t spoiled anything – so far so good!!!

One down side, however. Due to the cool wet Spring, and the onset of mildew throughout the vineyard, the yields are very low. This year’s crop is about half a normal harvest. That means ultimately fewer bottles of finished wine. This is a common complaint throught the Cotes du Rhone this year, including Chateauneuf-du-Pape – everyone’s yields are down this year.

So we will have to re-think the 3-wine plan. It may be necessary to cut back on the ‘Cuvee’ this year – perhaps doing only 6 barrels instead of 12 – and use the balance for the standard wine. Its going to be a question of economics…so we’ll see. For now, the important part is to successfully get through the pressing (in about 10 days) – and then decide how much of the ‘Cuvee’ gets into barrels and get the others into their respective tanks.

I think that’s it for wine news for today.

Oh – by the way – for those of you tracking along, I should get intenet service at the house the first of next week and we have started on the ‘Room with a View’ for friends and visitors.

More as we get further along.