Napa Valley Harvest Update


[Another treat today, as I have the pleasure of introducing Daniel Petroski, Assistant Winemaker at Larkmead Vineyards, where I was fortunate enough to experience their hospitality and to taste their wines during a recent trip out west. Dan reports on the current harvest conditions:]

An update on the 2007 harvest, while I have a moment. Mother Nature has played some significant games with Napa winemakers this year. A lack of water (i.e. rain) and a late summer heat wave (seven straight days of 100+ degree heat) shut the vines down. And put us all in a late August panic. However, a successive string of colder days, even cooler nights and some morning fog has re-hydrated most vines and they are progressing towards phenolic (taste) maturity.
However, this did not stop us from picking a fair amount of the vineyard early on, about 30% of it. Currently we have Merlot, Syrah and some Cabernet finishing fermentation and our Sauvignon Blanc is basically in that awkward stage of going “dry” and will be blended and prepped for a long winter's (wine development) nap. We are very excited about our SB this year because we are trying out some new fermentation and development techniques which include a more significant New French Oak presence as well as aging some of the wine in stainless steel barrels.

The former will help add some depth and richness to the wine's mid-palate, while the latter will help retain the racy acidity on the finish. A much more complex wine than we have produced in 2005 and 2006.

Over the next two weeks, we'll harvest the remainder of our grapes. Starting the next two days with back-to-back 15-ton efforts. Thirty tons of Cabernet means I am staring at about 30 hours of work over that same period. So, wish me luck and when I get up again, I will write more about what's happening on the vineyard.

Our Larkmead Merlot has the unique characteristic of being Cabernet-like in its power and structure. I am excited about the prospect of this wine, and maybe it will fall into the category of new-wave St. Emilion style, a la garigiste. We'll see.

Also, like most things in life, art or business, you create a point of reference. Throughout this growing season (even the ups and downs) we have likened the year to 2004. On a good note, Wine Spectator just released some of their Cabernet ratings from the 2004 vintage, and I am proud to say that our

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