Submitted by Karl Antink, white winemaker
On Monday, August 11th, as the sun rose over Napa Valley, we officially began our 2014 harvest with the handpicking of 2.7 acres of Sauvignon Blanc at our beloved Carol’s Vineyard in St. Helena. Our Sauvignon Blanc from Carol’s Vineyard is always the first fruit we harvest each year. We will actually do three different picks of Sauvignon Blanc at Carol’s, spaced out over about 11 or 12 days. We harvest at three different stages of ripeness to create a complex, layered Sauvignon Blanc with an array of flavors that range from zesty citrus to more tropical. The 2.7 acres we just picked represent only about a quarter of the vineyard’s 10.9 total acres of Sauvignon Blanc.
Harvesting Carol’s Vineyard is a bit like a warm-up for the bigger harvest ahead. It will be about another four to six weeks until the 2014 white wine harvest really gets underway, with the picking of Rhône white grapes in Paso Robles, and some early Chardonnay from Greenfield. Once the Chardonnay starts coming in things won’t really slow down until we finish up with the picking of our Riesling near the last week of October.
After watching the growing season carefully, and assessing the development of all our different white varieties, I’m excited about our 2014 harvest. It’s going to be a really good vintage. In many ways it’s similar to last year, with good weather during flowering and bloom, and enough warmth to achieve excellent ripeness. The vineyards have set a good crop, and the quality of the fruit on the vines looks phenomenal. Adding to our optimism, there are no major weather systems on the horizon, and there is no current threat of rain.
I like harvest, because it keeps me running, and I work best in that environment. This year, there are a few things I’m particularly looking forward to. It’s the third year of our Rhône white program, and the third vintage of our J. Lohr Estates Flume Crossing Sauvignon Blanc. We constantly refine our winemaking techniques, especially in the first few years, and I believe this will be a standout vintage for these wines as we further dial in our approach. After the success of our J. Lohr 40th Anniversary Pinot Blanc, I’m also looking forward to working with Pinot Blanc again. While the next few months will be filled with long, hard days, they will also be filled with energy, excitement, camaraderie and cool new projects, and at the end of it all, we’ll have another great vintage of wines to remember the year by.
Here’s to harvest 2014!