SMV is Ripe on the Vine
When Lane puts on her magic yellow boot, we know it’s almost time for harvest. Lane has donned this fine piece of footwear ever since 1982, early in her wine career, and damn near the infancy of Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir. “I lost the other boot somewhere along the line,” she says with a smile, “but thankfully I only need one.” And what is the boot’s purpose, other than the obvious fashion statement it makes? This boot crushes grapes. When it comes out of the closet, it means we are awfully close to pickin’ time. Lane uses it to make juice from fruit samples in the vineyards, which we test for sugar content and acidity. It’s a pre-crush crush of sorts.
The Sierra Madre Vineyard Chardonnay checked in at 21 degrees brix yesterday. What that means that is that we could see the earliest harvest on record in the Santa Maria Valley this year. “Clone 15 already has a gorgeous flavor profile,” states Lane, “and I think we could be picking as early as this coming weekend.” We thought last year’s harvest was early – picking started on Labor Day Weekend – but this year is something else entirely. The grapes are sweet and ripe almost a month earlier than normal.
The most common question we hear is: why did the grapes ripen so early this year? Does it have anything to do with the drought?
The answer is really quite simple: harvest is early because we barely had a winter last year. The winter of 2013-14 was so dry and warm that bud break came a month early. (Bud break is when the vines come out of their winter dormancy and shoot buds out of their bark). The early bud break resulted in early flowering, and once flowering occurs, the vines basically are setting their clock for harvest, assuming there are no abnormalities with summer weather patterns. Given that the 2014 summer season has been warm and fairly normal, harvest is already upon us.
“The earliest I have ever picked is August 21,” says Lane. “Unless something weird happens, that record is about to be broken.”
The fruit looks healthy, and the crop slightly smaller than 2013. With our 2013 wines now in bottle, our barrels stand at the ready. Two new wines are in the mix for release this fall: 2013 Lumen Grenache, and the 2013 Lumen Sierra Madre Vineyard Pinot Noir, made from our best barrels from our favorite fruit source.
With Lane’s boot leading the way, we will be bringing in new fruit from Camp 4 Vineyard and Martian Vineyard this year, so look for it down the road in our Grenache and Grenache Blanc.
Wish us well during the 2014 harvest, and thanks for putting Lumen in your glass! More updates to come…
– Will Henry