Journey: Thoughts and Reflections along the path. 

Sheldon Haynie
October 27, 2012 | Sheldon Haynie

Just when you thought it was winding down

We pressed off the Martini clone Pinot Noir yesterday, yielding 6 barrels from 2 generous tons of Thomson vineyards fruit. This wine came out of the press smooth and pleasing, it will be interesting to follow it through its aging over the next 18 months or so.


With the help of our intern Jim, we were able to also press off 4 barrels of Cabernet from the Soli Deo Gloria vineyard in West Gilroy. This hillside vineyard has been in our care for a year now, and it is responding nicely, with double the yield compared to last year due to better irrigation and establishing a cover crop to boost nutrients. The wine is a bit spicy coming off the press, and its going to need to have some oak to smooth its exuberance and polish it for release in 2014. 

Today we are picking the Behlmer vineyard Colombard, and if time permits Zinfandel. Something about having a winery and friends who own vineyards, who offer "you are welcome to whats left out there". Our growers the Mazotti family of San Martin, who were some of our earliest supporters and whose generousity last year under similar circumstances lead to the many tons of Merlot and Cabernet have Zinfandel that we will hope to harvest as well. 

While that is going on Jane will be pressing the Soli Deo Gloria Petit Syrah and preparing for the Colombard press as well. Unless some one else shows up with an offer we can't refuse, we will finally be done with harvest. 

Sheldon Haynie
October 14, 2012 | Sheldon Haynie

Over the hump: only 7 more tons

Its 0530 on a Sunday Morning, do you know where your pick crew has been?

Hopefully our has been sleeping instead of patronizing "el Pato Loco" the neighborhood dive. We will be picking out the last of the Soli Deo Gloria Cabernet Sauvignon at 0700 today and then returning to Athena's Vineyard to pick Cabernet Franc. Yesterday they got 3 tons for 7 guys, better than the Friday 2 tons for 5 and not as good as two week ago's 2.5 tons for 4. 

There's many a lesson in sociology in a field crew; who picks across from who, which teams are faster, which teams are not. How the peer pressure motivates both a minimum of hard work, and diminishes the standout who would show up the rest.  The guys will have cumbia music playing on a blackberry, and work steadily down the rows, moving "el Kubota" as needed to place the bin into which they are dumping their 5 gal pails.

The location of "el Kubota" our RTV 900 utiliby vehicle, and who drives it are fascinating as well, there's a definite pecking order of who operates machinery and who does not, who gets a long walk and who gets a short one. 

After the Cab Franc there's only the Colombard, currently just about 21 Brix and slowly ripening. We hope to pick that in about 2 more weeks. and close out Crush12. It's been an education and a lot of work, but well worth it. 

Jane Mika-Haynie
October 12, 2012 | Jane Mika-Haynie

2012 Crush

Yesterday, we got our Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Carneros- we received the fruit all at once and processed 4 tons with steady rain running down our backs for a good part of the afternoon. Today, the fruit will come in slower, and we will be shuffling fermenters- the first 3 Merlot fermentations from 2 weeks ago are ready to go into barrels, the barrels are prepped and ready, and the ibuprofen is flowing freely.

We hope to have 20-25 tons at the end of this year's crush. It becomes a logistical puzzle transferring grapes to pick bins, to fermenters, then to barrels. When we receive grapes all at once, like yesterday, the urgency to process is palpable. Once the grapes are picked, you want to get them crushed and away from oxygen as quickly as possible. 

So, yesterday was a 12 hour day for me, starting at 7am. Today, the pick crew has left for the vineyard at 7, and the crush pad crew will be showing up at 8. Today the fruit will come one pick bin at a time, and we can complete other tasks in between, which for me is record keeping of the crush, how many tons of fruit to how many gallons of juice, how much yeast and yeast food, etc. 

It is a yearly cycle, and it feels good to be part of this wondrous (and physically demanding) winemaking experience.

Time Posted: Oct 12, 2012 at 7:36 AM
Sheldon Haynie
October 2, 2012 | Sheldon Haynie

Crush and Passport

"Crush" is the term winemakers use for Harvest, Its a very apropos, with connotations of the process and the energy, when the pace of events becomes overwhelming and the wineries are running flat out. 

The pace depends on the weather for the year, if you've had near ideal growing conditions, the Burgundies come in late September, then the Merlot in Early October and the Cabernet and red Rhone's a bit later.

This year we had a bit of a warm spell in late September in the Santa Clara Valley and our Merlot is coming in nearly two weeks ahead of the Carneros Pinot and Chardonnay. With 4 days over 100F, our Syrah is being picked on Thursday 10/4 and we may be all done by 10/15. Compressing all of that picking into only three weeks is daunting when you have a day job. 

Fortunately we have some good help, family and a developing cadre of part time younger neighbors and local pickers. 

When you add in a major industry event the Semi Annual Passport, which is usually safely ahead of major harvest it makes for a very full schedule.