Catching up from the weekend

October 24, 2011

We have been busy indeed here at Amapola Creek! Harvest is almost done, there is only one more block of Estate Cabernet Sauvignon left to pick (more on this block tomorrow), and then all of the grapes will be in for the year.

Last Saturday, we picked what was left of the Cabernet Sauvignon in the Montana Vista block. Since there has been a lot of dew in the mornings, we had our fruit scheduled to pick in the afternoon, so that the fruit would have a chance to dry off a little. This threatened to be a very difficult pick, because the botrytis rot had really gotten worse in the previous few days, and we knew the picking crew was going to have a rough time sorting out the good fruit.

The picking crew in Montana Vista.

Very fortunately, the botrytis had only advanced to the point where it appears like a thin, gray fuzz on the outside of the grapes. When it is in this early stage of growth, it is possible for the pickers to use an old trick from the vineyards of St. Emilion; they grasp each vine and shake it vigorously, and all of the rotten grapes pop off and fall to the ground!

Botrytis infection significantly weakens the connection of the berry to the stem. When the fruit is still dry (the botrytis has not broken it open yet), vigorous shaking will detach infected berries and let them fall to the ground.

This allowed us to greatly speed up the process of picking, we got just under five tons of clean fruit from this vineyard on Saturday, which happily was a better yield than we had expected.

After Montana Vista was done, we moved down the hill to the Petite Verdot in Bobcat Run. This block actually had very little rot in it, and so the pickers were able to move through it very quickly. We got just under three tons of Petite Verdot.

Petite Verdot is a Bordeaux variety that is frequently blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. As you can see, it has slightly smaller, tighter clusters than most of our Cabernet Sauvignon clones. This variety typically adds a deep, fresh fruit character to Cabernet Sauvignon, its' aroma by itself is sometimes described as 'berry pie'.

Since we’re close to the end of the season, we are getting a little bit tight on tank space. So, we took all of the fruit we picked on Saturday and crushed it into a single tank and inoculated it with K1. Today this lot is fermenting very strongly, and the berry pie character of the Petite Verdot is quite evident in the top of the tank.

Many of our fermentations are drawing to a close, be sure to check back and see what comes next!

 To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.

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