Getting Close to Harvest

In the Winery

Lots happening in the winery. We bottled our third vintage under our own label last spring. We added a new wine to the line-up: Shy Ox. This is a blush, of course: a blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir. It has a light strawberry nose, a crisp finish, and has been a popular summer wine. We also changed our White Ox blend. Instead of Chardonnay and Riesling, the 2012 White Ox is Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer, and is lovely! I mean it.

Our 2012 reds are sitting happily in their barrels. We’ve bought more barrels, some new French, American and Hungarian Kadar. The 2012 whites have all been bottled, and the stainless steel tanks are cleaned and waiting for the 2013 harvest: a harvest that is about to happen.

Back in the Vineyard

As the grapes ripen we start worrying about birds and deer. A deer fence keeps most of the deer out, but the birds? Keeping them off our dark grapes (they don’t show interest in the white grapes) requires netting. Here are a few pictures:

We buy netting in 2.5 mile rolls, and net both sides of the vines at the fruiting zone.

I like this picture because not only does it show the vineyards in the distance, but it’s a great advertisement for one of Charlottesville’s finest establishments.

This is the view from the top of our vineyards of beautiful Swoope. Those are the Alleghenies in the background. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but the dairy farm is actually quite a way down.

I know I’m talking about Pinot Noir, but this is Cabernet Franc turning color (mid-veraison).  I took this picture a couple weeks ago. I’ll get some Pinot Noir pictures tomorrow.

Harvest will start this Saturday, as we bring in the 2013 Pinot Noir. It looks good. This past week of hot days and relative dryness has allowed the fruit to ripen. The sugars are measured in a unit called brix. As the sugars rise during ripening, the acidity drops. The trick is to harvest the grapes when the sugars are high but the fruit still holds enough acidity to make a balanced wine.  Sugars equal alcohol, but a wine without acidity is fat. It sits heavily on the tongue.

Last check our Pinot Noir was at 22+ brix and still holding good acid.  By harvest it may be up another couple brix. Ideally we like our Pinot Noir at about 23 brix. We seem in danger of having a nice crop!


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