2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

Discussions and questions (vintages, winemaking, etc) for those ITB. All are welcome to post.
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Merrill Lindquist
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#451 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 7th, 2017, 7:32 am

It is a very grey morning here, which in itself is not unusual. There is a 40% chance of rain for this morning, tapering off to zero chance into the afternoon. I can't sense whether that rain is coming or not.
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#452 Post by Andrew Morris » September 7th, 2017, 11:09 am

Eric Lundblad wrote:The smoke in Napa, Sonoma & similar was for a few days and has cleared or is clearing. So there should be no smoke taint issues with such a short exposure. The folks up in Humboldt are having a harder time unfortunately :(
Thanks for thinking of us.

We did get a little rain earlier and it looks like we might get some more.

NE Humboldt does not look great at this point. I hope this rain is enough to slow things down at least.

Humboldt is a big place. At the moment, it appears that our Southern Humboldt vineyards are OK, at least based on the testing that has been done so far.
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#453 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 7th, 2017, 1:57 pm

We have had some mist off and on this morning, but I doubt a drop hit any fruit. Nor the soil. I saw it on my deck - not enough to make my sleepy cats move from their deck chairs.
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#454 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 9th, 2017, 12:39 pm

Pretty nice weather out there for anything - including growing! Max of 85 here for the last 2 days. Diamond Mountain is again visible - the air was so thick through the heat. Hopefully this is a trend.
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#455 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 9th, 2017, 2:37 pm

As expected some sugars have reversed with this cooler weather and mornings. Powering through the weekend with Pinot Gris this morning and Gewurtz tomorrow. Talk of picker shortages even at some places that usually have enough. The mechanical age is coming.
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#456 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 9th, 2017, 3:51 pm

It actually hit 90 here on my shaded deck. Warmer than that in the vineyard. Ideal conditions for growing.
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#457 Post by N Weis » September 9th, 2017, 4:18 pm

We bought our first Pellenc harvester this spring.

So far, it's picked the vineyards we own that we planned to pick with it, some vineyards we own that we didn't plan to pick with it, and even some growers' vineyards. All due to management companies' inabilities to get to them. It's been a godsend. The alternative was letting it get cooked for 4 days after we made the picking call. So far, the VM companies have not complained but seemed kind of relieved. It does a better job sorting than we could do in the cellar. I love it. I can have hand crews go one place and it go to another, which is going to be very important in about 10-14 days when all of Napa and Sonoma Bordeauxs are ripe at once.
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#458 Post by Roy Piper » September 9th, 2017, 7:52 pm

How does the Pellenc work, Nate? Any videos out there of them in action?
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#459 Post by Roy Piper » September 9th, 2017, 7:54 pm

Two more days at 100F tomorrow and Monday, but I don't think for much of the day. Also, the nights are back to being cool. I am not worried about those. After that looks like 7 days of 82-85F. Perfect!

I am still hoping for 3 weeks out for Moulds and 4 for Nine Suns.
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#460 Post by N Weis » September 9th, 2017, 8:55 pm

Hey Roy: I have some videos of it running but nothing that will tell you much. They are savvy so I bet there are plenty of YouTube videos of the harvesters running. I hopped up onto some bins of Cabernet picked today in Healdsburg and was really impressed. We still need to learn about how to use SO2, dry ice, etc, during the picks, but man it was clean. This was at our winery estate there so they were literally 2 min from the crushpad but I think we can improve on temp and oxidation prevention for more outlying vineyard picks.
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#461 Post by Gary Schulte » September 10th, 2017, 4:29 am

Assuming this is the type of model Nate is talking about.

[youtube]WBmFH7fNxnA[/youtube]

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#462 Post by Gary Schulte » September 10th, 2017, 4:35 am

Some east coast wineries have been adding harvesters to not only hedge against picking crew delays but also to quickly bring in a harvest in the face of incoming weather events(tropical storms, etc.). The newer models seem to have not only milder picking & sorting but easier access to all parts for cleaning and sanitation.

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#463 Post by Andrew Demaree » September 10th, 2017, 9:33 am

Thanks for posting the video...very interesting to see. So, is the machine basically shaking the vine back and forth multiple times to make the fruit fall off? That's what it looks like. If so, any fear of damage to the vines?

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#464 Post by Andrew Demaree » September 10th, 2017, 9:35 am

And, Casey or anyone else who knows, what happens that the sugar levels in the grapes fall back with cooler weather? Is that related to increased water (i.e., rehydration) inside the grapes and the percentage of sugar dropping as a result of increased water volume, or something else?

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#465 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 10th, 2017, 10:19 am

Shit Andy I'm not that smart, just know it always happens after a heat wave!
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#466 Post by Andrew Demaree » September 10th, 2017, 1:00 pm

:)

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#467 Post by Nolan E » September 10th, 2017, 4:42 pm

We picked Chardonnay for sparkling yesterday. We will have a bit more Chard and some Pinot Noir for the same wine.

Some early blocks of Pinot Noir in the Dundee Hills that look about a week off. But it rained really nicely yesterday evening so we'll see what happened from that.
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#468 Post by Eric Lundblad » September 10th, 2017, 4:50 pm

Yeah, the vines can only pull up so much water in a day. If it's hot and the leaves/grapes respirate more water than the vine can pull up...then the sugar/brix increases. The acids (tartaric & malic) can increase as well, tho not as quickly since the acids heat/ripening will drop the acid levels. When it cools off, the brix lowers since the vine can bring up more water than it blows off.
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#469 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 10th, 2017, 8:53 pm

Why not catch it when you like it? Why all the dances?

I have only done 18 harvests. Not many. The first, in 2000, I hadn't a clue. Fortunately, the winemaker I got hooked up with, and the serendipitous connection with a man who would become my mentor, allowed me the freedom from points and norms and all that stuff. I slid through 2001 and woke up with the 2002 vintage.

I own my own vineyard, and I will not apologize for that (nor for venturing out there in the growing season in my nightgown).

I make the wine I want to make. People ask how I know when to pick; this year I made this decision without labs or second opinions. Sound egotistical? Perhaps. But if you watch, listen, and communicate, you will know when it is time to pick. It is the single most important decision a grower or winery will make in an entire year. The rest is management.
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#470 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 11th, 2017, 5:45 pm

Come on Merrill deep down you know you 'panic picked' and should have rode out the heat. PH would have been better too.
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#471 Post by Chris Johnson » September 11th, 2017, 6:00 pm

My hats off to those of you that do this for a living. I just futz around as a home winemaker. I've lost 3 out of 4 picks this year due to the heat. I think my wife is secretly thrilled as she gets to keep her closet.

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#472 Post by Joe Webb » September 12th, 2017, 1:06 pm

We brought in our last bins of PN this am. Got it processed and was having lunch when it started to rain. Not the drizzle we got last week but .02" of rain. Yesterday was warmer than expected in the upper 90's.

Only Semillon hanging here will get it in a week or 2.
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#473 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 12th, 2017, 6:13 pm

19 of 23 wine lots are picked. After tomorrow we'll have 300 tons picked. Delivered fruit to Sonoma today and when I got back I could tell the dust had been settled.

Wineries are now plugged and having trouble turning tanks. Trying to keep picking momentum. Crap!
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#474 Post by William Segui » September 13th, 2017, 9:24 am

It looks to me like the floodgates on Napa are really going to open next week. There is/has been activity for 10-14 days, but most is still out there.

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#475 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 13th, 2017, 1:42 pm

It's very cool out there: 67 degrees. No sun. Shower activity and a huge rumble of thunder this morning around 7:00.

Down to the winery and back this morning, and there are plenty of bins moving fruit to the wineries. Plenty of vineyards picked, and plenty still to go.

My own is at about 3 Brix. The color is gorgeous. I tasted, of course. No green; pure fruit flavor, but still some of that fermentation funk in the nose from glass. I am extremely happy with it right now: it's what I like to make, it's what I like to drink, and it is what my customers have come to expect.
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#476 Post by Paul Gordon » September 14th, 2017, 8:48 am

We did a full sampling yesterday. The bulk of our Syrah is in the 19.5-21b range, pH around 3.4. Tan seeds, good color.
The 10-day weather forecast shows highs in the 60F-75F range and lows in the 40s (that should preserve the acids).
It is amazing that apart from a little desiccation over Labor Day weekend, the hot summer has had little impact on fruit development.
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#477 Post by Karen Troisi » September 14th, 2017, 9:46 am

First CS vineyard was picked early this morning - Rutherford.

Edit - just checked and we picked this same block in 2016 on 9/13.
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#478 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 14th, 2017, 4:56 pm

Yes, Karen, the anticipated gap between 2016 and 2017 narrowed recently. They became virtually the same due to extreme heat conditions. I know you are bi-coastal...who makes your calls to pick?
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#479 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 14th, 2017, 5:34 pm

We passed the halfway point today. Over 300 tons in the barn. Now getting into Pinot for still wine. Picking for our friends at Navarro tomorrow and then get the whole weekend off! After tomorrow we will have picked for 13 days straight. Crew needs a break.
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#480 Post by Roy Piper » September 14th, 2017, 6:27 pm

I feel 7-10 days of sun (preferably in the 80s) away on Moulds "Buckeye Block" and 14-21 days for Moulds "Reservoir" and 21 days for Nine Suns.

I am wringing my hands over Moulds "Buckeye" right now. The others are no-brainers cuz they just aint close. But Buckeye is at a place where about 1/3 of the fruit is ready but 2/3 just needs a really good 10 days and I am already wondering if we will get it anytime soon. A bit of golf-balling and caving in on about 15% of the fruit in that block and I doubt it could deal with either another heatwave or more than 1/4 inch of rain. Temps in the 67-75F range don't help.

I feel I just have to wait on that one til I have no choice.
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#481 Post by Karen Troisi » September 15th, 2017, 8:21 am

Merrill Lindquist wrote:Yes, Karen, the anticipated gap between 2016 and 2017 narrowed recently. They became virtually the same due to extreme heat conditions. I know you are bi-coastal...who makes your calls to pick?
Kian (our winemaker) makes the call - has done that since 2004 for us.
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#482 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 15th, 2017, 8:35 am

I awoke this morning to what I thought was another thunderstorm, but it was just the banging and thumping of bins out in the vineyards! A lot of picking going on around me.

There was a major change in this morning's temperature - around 52 degrees near the house at 6:30. It is sunny and clear, and the view of Diamond Mountain is totally clear. More typical and very beautiful. The cold temperatures are ideal for bringing those grapes in.
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#483 Post by Karen Troisi » September 15th, 2017, 12:32 pm

How are yields looking for everyone? We were heavy at all three vineyards we picked thus far (sb, malbec and cs) - all were in Rutherford.
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#484 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 15th, 2017, 1:11 pm

Karen Troisi wrote:How are yields looking for everyone? We were heavy at all three vineyards we picked thus far (sb, malbec and cs) - all were in Rutherford.
Mixed bag but on the heavy side. We've missed some high and low. Gewurtz was lower than estimated but not by much. Pinot (our bread and butter) has been close to last year's records.
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#485 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 15th, 2017, 2:15 pm

Lucky you, Karen!

My neighbor, Frediani, reported heavy on SB and light on his Zin. Did not discuss the others with him as I have not seen him for a week - he stopped by when I was picking on the 4th and congratulated me for getting my Cab in. I realized later, after the pick was done and he motored through the center of my vineyard, that my crew was blocking our shared access! He would never complain - great, great neighbors to have.

My Cab was slightly lighter than 2015 and 2016. 2014 was the heaviest I have had since I started with this stuff in 2000. My own fermentation is diddling around in the cool temperatures. I prefer the predictability of the larger tanks, due to the temperature control, but with my light yield we went back to the T-bins. If you strongly value predictability, don't have kids and don't grow/make wine!

I see Kenefick is picking plenty down the way - bins say CADE.
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#486 Post by Roy Piper » September 15th, 2017, 7:58 pm

Looks like weather might be firming up the next week in the low 80s. That should do the trick. Or close to it, for my primary Moulds block.
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#487 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 16th, 2017, 7:43 am

I hope you are right about the weather, Roy. Yesterday I heard on the radio that it would be warm this weekend, but then a big cool down during the first part of the week, and perhaps rain on Monday or Tuesday. I have not poked around the various weather sites for confirmation, but will do that today. There is a lot of Cab hanging out there, and we need a strong vintage for all of us.

Edit - Update - I do see a cooling down during the week into the mid-70s and perhaps some 40s overnight, but I don't see any imminent rain...and that's a good thing.
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#488 Post by timmy roos » September 16th, 2017, 8:53 am

Karen Troisi wrote:How are yields looking for everyone? We were heavy at all three vineyards we picked thus far (sb, malbec and cs) - all were in Rutherford.
Our sb was over expectation in one vineyard and just below normal on our other. Chard and merlot to come
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#489 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 16th, 2017, 2:04 pm

A rare two days off! I slept in until 6:00 this morning, caught up on data entry and might even take a nap this afternoon. I'd like to think the worst is over for us. Things have slowed significantly and I'm hoping we can pick the final 300 tons at a more orderly pace. Many wineries are plugged now and trying hard to turn tanks. Sparkling, pinot grits and almost all the Gewurtz are off. It's now about pinot and Chard.
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#490 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 18th, 2017, 2:38 pm

It's a beautiful day out there! It was a slow climb to 80, here, but it doesn't feel like 80 because it is somewhat overcast off and on, and it is quite breezy. It is supposed to be a week of very moderate temperatures, and they are still predicting some 40s overnight toward the end of the week. I heard one forecast on the radio saying some of the Northern Valley areas could get into the 30s.

I took a bit of a tour around the area today and there are tons and tons of fruit hanging - presumably mostly Cab.
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#491 Post by Eric Lundblad » September 18th, 2017, 5:06 pm

I love the smell of Pinot Grits in the morning :)
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#492 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 19th, 2017, 4:44 pm

Looks like we're gonna get wet tomorrow. Maybe a third of an inch. I'm going deer hunting out my back yard, the rain makes them move.

Cool video one of my customers made while coming to pickup fruit.
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#493 Post by Roy Piper » September 19th, 2017, 7:38 pm

I am picking Moulds on Saturday. Decided at this point there is more to lose than gain in the expected heat starting Tuesday.
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#494 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 19th, 2017, 8:13 pm

Roy, how have the flavors come along? From what I have sampled out there from vine, admittedly from a small sample, the flavors have become less complex and the sugars have stagnated. My own fermentation is stalling due to cool temperatures, so we all have our own issues.
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#495 Post by Edward H. Earles » September 20th, 2017, 4:22 am

Casey Hartlip wrote: I'm going deer hunting out my back yard, the rain makes them move.
I used to do that when I lived in Maryland. It's nice to be able to hunt without getting into an automobile. I could go from deer-on-the-ground to skinned, quartered and in the spare fridge, in an hour and 45 minutes.

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#496 Post by Paul Gordon » September 20th, 2017, 8:35 am

Sampled our Syrah again yesterday. Hardly any movement. The berries have rehydrated. Sitting at 20-22b. Heading to a pick the first week of October (which was the estimate based on the flowering date).
I hear other vineyards are experiencing the same halt or very slow brix advance.
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#497 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 20th, 2017, 11:58 am

Paul Gordon wrote:Sampled our Syrah again yesterday. Hardly any movement. The berries have rehydrated. Sitting at 20-22b. Heading to a pick the first week of October (which was the estimate based on the flowering date).
I hear other vineyards are experiencing the same halt or very slow brix advance.
Exactly what I am tasting out there. I do not see rehydration up here...there is a point when raisins are raisins. I always look at the stem - if it is brown and in a vertical position, I think it is pretty much done. If it still has some green, I think it is possible it will continue to develop. This is not scientific; this is pure observation.

If a winery does not have a very active sorting system, I think the flavors could veer off into a flavor profile that could be awkward.

I picked 2 weeks ago to preserve flavor that is consistent with my label's profile. I picked because it tasted good! I picked because I could not bear the loss I was starting to see from dehydration, despite irrigating. Some of the conditions out there remind me of 2011, when flavors and Brix were doing the cha-cha: back and forth, go forward, go back, then step back to the center. Where do you want to catch the fruit? Some folks think the thing about 2011 was the rain, but it was goofy well before the Oct 3 rain, and then the bigger one around the 22nd. The flavors and Brix were going ahead and falling back. Just another vintage showing vintage qualities. As I frequently say, "If all you want is the same wine in your cellar and glass, all the time, then find a vintage you love and back up the truck." Otherwise, listen, taste, and learn to appreciate vintage difference.
Merrill
EMH Vineyards - Home of the Black Cat
email:Merrill@EMHVineyards.com

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Paul Gordon
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2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

#498 Post by Paul Gordon » September 20th, 2017, 12:49 pm

Merrill Lindquist wrote:
Paul Gordon wrote:Sampled our Syrah again yesterday. Hardly any movement. The berries have rehydrated. Sitting at 20-22b. Heading to a pick the first week of October (which was the estimate based on the flowering date).
I hear other vineyards are experiencing the same halt or very slow brix advance.
Exactly what I am tasting out there. I do not see rehydration up here...there is a point when raisins are raisins. I always look at the stem - if it is brown and in a vertical position, I think it is pretty much done. If it still has some green, I think it is possible it will continue to develop. This is not scientific; this is pure observation.

If a winery does not have a very active sorting system, I think the flavors could veer off into a flavor profile that could be awkward.

I picked 2 weeks ago to preserve flavor that is consistent with my label's profile. I picked because it tasted good! I picked because I could not bear the loss I was starting to see from dehydration, despite irrigating. Some of the conditions out there remind me of 2011, when flavors and Brix were doing the cha-cha: back and forth, go forward, go back, then step back to the center. Where do you want to catch the fruit? Some folks think the thing about 2011 was the rain, but it was goofy well before the Oct 3 rain, and then the bigger one around the 22nd. The flavors and Brix were going ahead and falling back. Just another vintage showing vintage qualities. As I frequently say, "If all you want is the same wine in your cellar and glass, all the time, then find a vintage you love and back up the truck." Otherwise, listen, taste, and learn to appreciate vintage difference.
Merrill

Just so I am clear - the (small percentage of) badly desiccated berries have remained so. In the heat many berries dimpled a little. They have generally filled out and hardened. I think it is this uptake of water that is slowing the sugar advance.

I must admit I am one of those that does not get the "flavors" of grapes on the vine. I just look for visual clues to indicate "ripeness" - slackening berries, pulp color, lignification of the stems - and the color/hardness of the seeds. I can recognise the maturity of tannins by chewing grapes but cannot recognise any favor profiles that end up in the finished wine. Of course Cab, with its inherent greenness, could be different.
Paul Gordon
Halcon Vineyards

Noel Diaz
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2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

#499 Post by Noel Diaz » September 20th, 2017, 1:08 pm

Merrill,
To the last part of what you wrote there about vintage variation, Amen! That variation is what I see as something akin to a rainbow, where we get to experience all the shades of color of the dynamics of wine. I embrace those differences that nature offers up, and I relish working with them.

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Joe Webb
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2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

#500 Post by Joe Webb » September 20th, 2017, 1:35 pm

Brought in semillon on Monday. No more fruit in our vineyard. Got some rain today .06" not much but more than the last few sprinkles. Looks to warm back up into the low 80's early next week keeping the tomatoes going strong after I removed all the sunburned fruit.

Ferments all moving along may press of first lot as early as Friday or as late as Tuesday, will have to see when the cap falls on the couple I have no whole clusters in.
Drink to remember not to forget!
ITB- Proprietor & Winemaker Foursight Wines, GM Londer Vineyards (RIP 2001-2013)

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