August 27, 2018 11:58
After summer started out warm, with a few weeks of temperatures near 100, the weather took a cool turn in August. Cool, foggy, damp mornings have struggled to clear by 2pm (and some days not at all), and daily highs have hovered near 70 for the last week. The lack of stress on the vines from heat has allowed the grape crop to plump up nicely, not draw in as they can do from heat; so, when and if we do get that heat spell, the clusters will be in good shape.
The Dutton Ranch crew has been out thinning the crop to allow the final ripening energy to focus on the remaining clusters, and dropping green clusters now that veraison is well underway. By cutting off clusters that are still fairly green in contrast to the majority that are mostly ripe, it allows the crop to all ripen evenly. My guess at this point is that our first grapes will come in the last couple days in August for bubbly, with the first pinot harvested shortly after Labor Day. This is more like what a typical season used to be like, starting in early September and finishing close to Halloween; the last two years have wrapped up in early October, and the tiny 2015 harvest was done before the end of September. The fires in Mendocino have been terrible, but winds have blown mostly to the east, so our vineyards haven’t seen much of the smoke from them. Our harvest wish for 2018 is that no more fires hit the area, and the rains and cold frosty nights stay at bay until November!