Harvest is upon us! For a would-be cellar rat / winemaker like myself, that means every weekend is spent in Paso Robles, helping to harvest or process grapes. Because every varietal we grow is ready to harvest a different time -- unless it doesn't reach ripeness, but that is a story for another blog entry -- we're harvesting a different block every week and have grapes in all stages of winemaking for the next month or so.
In addition to harvesting and processing grapes, we've got the usual ancillary activities such as driving samples to Dr. Baker at www.bwga.net, attending harvest festivals, constantly testing and tasting for ripeness, consulting with fellow winemakers, keeping things going in the tasting room, and shooting these behind the scenes videos of the process. In the near future our Shadow Run Vineyards YouTube channel will be changing it's name to The Aaron & Dave Wine Show as we venture off of the property to show you more of Paso Robles, other wineries, the characters that work and live there, and whatever else might come up on our travels.
A few words about this years harvest: Something happened in Paso Robles -- everyone has a theory but no one is definitively sure -- and the average harvest tonnage we're bringing out of the vineyard is about 60% down from previous years. This could have been caused by a late freeze no one noticed, strong winds blowing pollen off and preventing pollination, who knows. Regardless of the cause, it's forcing wine makers to do some scrambling. When mother nature delivers an unexpected hand, the winemaker must make quick decisions to deal with the new reality. This might mean co-fermenting grapes for an unplanned blend, making different use of barrels and containers that planned, buying additional juice from other vineyards to make a new blend, or forgoing making a much desired stand alone varietal or blend. This is the nature of winemaking: there is never a recipe to be followed. Good winemaking comes down to smart reactions to the unexpected. And a good network of vendors and colleagues who can help you make those adjustments.
In this video I cover -- at a very high level -- the first part of what happens to grapes coming out of the vineyard, on their way to becoming wine. Please enjoy the video and if you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to post them.