As of today, our grapes are all in! Today's picking of Petit Verdot in Cadenza Vineyards in The Brogue marked the end of the growing season.
All of the grapes from our Stewartstown vineyards were already in, three weeks ago. Since the grapes there are hybrid varieties such as Vidal and Chambourcin, they ripen more quickly and are harvested earlier than the European-style vinifera grapes, which sometimes hang on the vines until November. Since this was a rebuilding and retraining year for those vines, and because of a spring frost which singed some of the vines, our Stewartstown yields were down significantly from a typical year there. But, while the grape yields were down 30%-50%, their quality this year was solid.
This has, on balance, been quite a short growing season. Due to a cold springtime, we had the latest budbreak ever this year, six days later than ever before. In our Cadenza Vineyards, we narrowly escaped the spring frost. The white grapes (Chardonnay, Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Semillon) from the 2020 harvest came in looking fine, though Carl hasn't yet noted a potential stand-out wine among them.
By contrast, Carl is pretty excited by the Cadenza Vineyards red grapes from this harvest, especially the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and today's Petit Verdot. He deems himself "extremely satisfied" with their character and quality, and our yields from this vineyard were actually quite a bit higher than in the past.
Cheers and thanks to our vineyard crew for their good work this year: Nelson, Jason, Flo, Grace, Matt, and Ryan!
We don't grow the hybrid red grape Chambourcin in our vineyards in The Brogue, but it's a grape we've worked with since our days back at Happy Valley's Mount Nittany Winery. It's grown for quite a while over at our Stewartstown location, where we currently cultivate over an acre and a half. When that property was home to Naylor Wine Cellars, Chambourcin was certainly a versatile favorite.
Chambourcin is dependable. It does reliably well in the vineyard and imparts wonderful deep red color to Chambourcin wines and red blends.
In my 9/17 post "Ripening," I described our trip to Stewartstown last month to collect grapes and sample for sweetness/ripening.
Two-thirds of our Chambourcin this year is being picked and pressed, destined to become a future Allegro Prelude (dry rosé); the rest will become part of a dry red wine. This has been a "compressed harvest," which means that lots of varieties are coming in within a short period of time. Many moving parts.
Dylan and I got to document the grape harvest in the morning, followed by the afternoon pressing back at The Brogue. Here's a look:
I particularly like this shot of the Chambourcin grape bins at the loading dock, with their vines in the background. Such beautiful blue globes!
The grape bins were brought back to The Brogue on our truck, where they were unloaded and, one by one, emptied into our crusher/destemmer, with Dwayne running the forklift. The crushed grapes then headed to the press, where they (with Dave's re-addition of a few of the stems) were pressed. The juice flows down from the press to a settling tank, and then the clean juice is pumped into a temperature-controlled fermentation tank.
Chambourcin's deep color tends to dye everything it touches with dark purple remainders, and the stained juice will be perfect for our Prelude rosé. Many thanks to all who are working so hard to ensure the quality of our 2020 harvest!