Thoughts on the upcoming harvest

August 25, 2014 § 1 Comment

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The 2014 growing season started off fast and furious, with early bud break, which led to early bloom that put us two weeks ahead of schedule of a normal year. But what truly is normal anymore?  I personally feel like the month of August is one of the most important months as it pertains to the quality of the vintage.  If there is a large crop or a small crop, early or late year, I feel that the most important factor is that when the grapes are hanging and in their final stretch of maturity, this is when flavors and hang time really matter the most.  For instance, if we have a very hot month of August, the grapes start to ripen quickly, primarily due to dehydration.  What we are looking for, as winemakers, is a slow ripening season where we attain physiological ripeness as opposed to ripeness through dehydration. 

I’ve been referring to the month of August as the month of “Fogust.”  We have been experiencing cooler than normal temperatures, and every morning we have a blanket of fog that doesn’t burn off until midday.  Although this brings more moisture to the grapes that could lead to mold or botrytis, it also gives these grapes a chance to slowly build flavors and become physiologically ripe.  We are seeing stems and seeds starting to lignify and sugars staying flat, which is allowing these grapes to continue their journey into becoming what this vintage will be known for.  Happy Harvest!

Harvest is on its way

August 4, 2014 § 2 Comments

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This is the time of the year when I always get that pit in my stomach of excitement and anticipation for the upcoming vintage. This year will be particularly special because it marks the 10th anniversary of our first vintage at Kokomo. That first vintage was a single varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon. Now I’m looking at producing 13 different varietals and up to 20 individual lots of wine.

My main objective in preparing for the upcoming harvest is to start with a clean slate. That means everything in the winery gets a complete and thorough cleaning. It is very important that we don’t have random yeast, bacteria, or any other microbiological debris in our winery or on our equipment. Producing so many varietals makes it even more difficult to isolate each vineyard, each clone, and each block for optimal complexity in our final wines.  When we do native fermentation, meaning no added yeast, we like to know that what is fermenting our grapes is actually native from the vineyard and not from a neighboring fermentation.

This will also be the first time that we’ve used our equipment such as our press, de-stemmer, and open top fermenters since last year. We do a thorough sanitation, but also look at all moving parts. We make sure we have greased bearings and have checked the electrical components to make certain everything is flawless, because when grapes are coming in by the tons there will be no time for maintenance issues. Can you imagine being a commercial chef and only opening up your kitchen for two months out of the year? This is no doubt my favorite time of the year and I am very much looking forward to “camping” in my cellar for two months.

Cheers to a safe and flavorful 2014!

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