2018 Vintage West Coast 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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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#551 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 1st, 2018, 5:24 pm

That's a bit much, Stewart. I would be lost without my full harvest team, which includes pickers, a foreman who drives the forklift to get the macros on the truck, and helps me slog through those bins to pick out unwanted materials. He drives to the winery and I follow him closely.

I direct it all, and believe me, my right hand has no fingernails left from the quality control effort. My crew was not happy when I held them there and walked the vineyard, looking for prime clusters that were missed. I'll bet we brought in 1/4 ton that way, and mostly from my prized block (St. George). Some of our crew this year included shorter females, and with my high trellising, I think they just passed on anything high.

I have been doing this for 18 years, and I know and demand exactly what I want.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#552 Post by Al Osterheld » November 1st, 2018, 8:10 pm

Wow. Harrington moves everything by hand, too. But we generally have a workforce bigger than one. That's a lot of work to do alone.

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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#553 Post by Ken Zinns » November 1st, 2018, 9:10 pm

Stewart Johnson wrote:
November 1st, 2018, 4:46 pm
Hey Merrill. Yes, I'm the grower and winemaker. Sales too, although that appears to be one hat too many. I have help picking, of course. I'm lucky to have 8 guys who only pick for me. Not fast, not cheap and they all have day jobs, so I can't keep them out there all night. But, to borrow from the sporting realm, the most important ability in harvesting is availability. I'm the tractor driver, bandeja dumper and leafer/sorter of the operation. Once it's in the bin, I work alone. (Is there a Dirty Harry emoji?) The winemaking felt all too hands-on this year, as I kept more of my own grapes than I would really have liked. I processed 26 tons (and sold 10) this year, which may not sound like all that much, but I manually lifted (pitchforks, shovels and buckets) each of those grapes up to 6 times before I hauled them back out to the vineyard -- banbeja to macro, macro to destemmer, destemmer bin to fermenter, fermenter to macro, macro to press, press to pomace bin. I actually scored a bin dumper right before harvest but couldn't get the forklift service company out in time to get it set up. But that should make next year easier, and maybe the market for pinot grapes won't be as glutted as it was this year. In any case, it's been kind of a grueling harvest, and I'm finding it easy to come up with rationales for pushing any particular press back a day.
That is a lot to do on your own, Stewart! As Al mentioned, we have a similar low-tech, high manual labor setup at Harrington. We're also in punchdown / waiting to press mode for the last lots of fruit that have come in (and Bryan does nearly all of the punchdowns himself). Bryan has promised some sort of bin dumper for next year...we'll see :-) All the forking / shoveling / bucketing does get me in pretty good shape every fall.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#554 Post by Paul Gordon » November 2nd, 2018, 8:31 am

Our harvest is a wrap! Picked our Grenache, Mourvedre and a little Syrah (for coferment) yesterday (11/1). The yield was a little higher than previous years but still averaged under 2t/a. Fruit looked good with no significant rot.
This was the 11th vintage for us and has been one of the more unusual. Excepting July and the second half of October, the night time temps have been well below average. I believe that explains the high malics. The late harvest is also a result of very cool periods in mid September - there was a 14 days period with average high temps in the mid 60s - and the first week of October.
If we measure hang time as the period from uniform, 100% color then we experienced 38 days on a Syrah. The previous longest Syrah hangtime was 29 days in 2013.
We saw some mildew pressure, likely those cool foggy nights. It crepted in from the end of the rows just like 2011.
Sugars have been very typical. The higher acids seem to be giving a brighter character. I think it will be a rather unique vintage.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#555 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 3rd, 2018, 6:17 pm

Paul,
Happy to hear you are in the barn as they say. As I say 'every harvest is different, and none of them are easy!' It will be SO interesting to see how the wines from this vintage turn out. I've heard of some very large crops this year. I'm very proud of my crews of how well they followed the plan of fruit drop for most of August. We'll never know but I'll guess we dropped 40-50 tons of fruit.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#556 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 5th, 2018, 5:39 pm

IMG_20181105_095306614_HDR.jpg
Peas and beans coming up despite no rain. Warm soil temps and some subsurface moisture doing the job.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#557 Post by Sean Devaney » November 5th, 2018, 8:55 pm

Any one else out there have some fruit hanging? Congrats to everyone who has their fruit "in the barn" [cheers.gif]

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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#558 Post by Stewart Johnson » November 5th, 2018, 9:59 pm

Is anyone else starting to get the feeling that this is a really strong vintage? I know we're cartoon-like in proclaiming great vintages every year, but this time I really mean it. And I want to link that to crop load. This vintage reminds me of 2013, which was also a very heavy year that came out of the fermenter seeming perfectly put together. Further, the variety that I would have said that I undoubtedly overcropped this year (6 TPA), syrah that couldn't get past 22 brix, is the most surprisingly concentrated thing in the winery. Like 2013, this year is making me re-think the winemakers' fetish about low yields.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#559 Post by Ken Zinns » November 6th, 2018, 6:35 am

Stewart Johnson wrote:
November 5th, 2018, 9:59 pm
Is anyone else starting to get the feeling that this is a really strong vintage? I know we're cartoon-like in proclaiming great vintages every year, but this time I really mean it. And I want to link that to crop load. This vintage reminds me of 2013, which was also a very heavy year that came out of the fermenter seeming perfectly put together. Further, the variety that I would have said that I undoubtedly overcropped this year (6 TPA), syrah that couldn't get past 22 brix, is the most surprisingly concentrated thing in the winery. Like 2013, this year is making me re-think the winemakers' fetish about low yields.
Interesting point about fruit quality vs. yield. We've also found this vintage to be really strong - some things more than others, of course, but overall the it looks like it could be the best in awhile. And we've also seen higher-than-typical crop loads (and great fruit at lower-than-usual brix) from most growers we work with. Not sure whether there is a correlation but it's something that deserves some thought. Of course you can go overboard, and one grower (one we've worked with for a few years) really screwed up with heavy overcropping this year.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#560 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 6th, 2018, 6:46 am

29 degrees at my vineyard weather station here at daybreak.

To Stewart's point about crop level and wine quality. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too......within reason. A larger crop always means longer hang time and slower ripening. That bodes well if you have a heat spike during harvest (which we didn't have). Too much of anything is still too much. I've seen many vineyards with crazy/stupid crop levels. We will see what happens with wines from those examples.

To the extreme in the other direction is 2015 in our area. Crazy short Pinot crop, in some cases 25-30% of normal. Conventional wisdom would think concentrated wines right? Well there was such little hang time and vines out of balance it makes me wonder.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#561 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 6th, 2018, 7:50 am

Just 33 degrees this morning here at the ranch around 6:00-7:00.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#562 Post by Stewart Johnson » November 6th, 2018, 2:49 pm

Also on the subject of yields -- last year, at this point, I was bemoaning the fact that I didn't have enough water left after the Labor Day heat spike to give my vines a decent post-harvest irrigation and put them to bed well fed. I was concerned that a lack of carb storage was going to bode ill for this year's crop. Casey weighed in that he'd seen plenty of good crops follow a water shortage in the preceding Fall, and that certainly turned out to be good guidance for this year.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#563 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 8th, 2018, 1:13 pm

Well, the big forecasted freezing temperatures did not happen overnight. I don't think it got under 50 degrees here. They have been threatening to turn the power off because it appears that power wires from PGE were at fault for last October's fires.

People who know my property location (Valley floor, pocketed between the Palisades Mountains and Diamond Mountain) would not believe the lack of visibility here today. Some fire in Butte County, plus big winds, are just encapsulating my place with smoke. Humidity is listed at 11%...perfect along with the winds for fire. PGE is so frantic that they keep sending out texts and emails warning they might be turning off the electricity. I had a noon deadline for input of some shipping orders, so I was up entering shipping orders at 3:00 this morning while I knew we still had electric. This is just pure craziness.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#564 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 10th, 2018, 2:14 pm

It was 28 degrees here this morning...pretty darned cold. There is no smoke down here on the Valley floor, but as soon as you go to any higher elevation, it is all smoked in. The Palisades and Diamond Mountain are still fully encapsulated in smoke.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#565 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 14th, 2018, 9:59 am

27 degrees here at my place this morning at 7:00. There is still smoke in the mountains, but the sun is shining and you can see some definition of the high and low spots in the mountains.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#566 Post by Stewart Johnson » November 14th, 2018, 1:11 pm

No scenic yellow of senescent leaves in the vineyard this year. A pretty healthy post-harvest canopy, thanks to abundant irrigation water this year, got blasted brown by frost sometime before my last trip out to dump pomace yesterday. No harm done, since everything was picked in Oct, and most of the vineyard had had several weeks to build up a store of carbs since harvest. Still, it's kind of an ugly and abrupt end to the vineyard year.
In the winery, I celebrate every end-of-crush milestone more gladly. There's the tipping-up-of-the-bin-scale ceremony; the stowing-the-tools-of-ignorance (punchdown device and pitchfork) pageant; the last-press-cleaning gala; the last-barrel-down festival; etc. I'm starting to run short of sound reasons to pop a beer, but at least I'm still in the midst of a series premature last-stray-grape-skin-tracked-down declarations, and each of those warrant commemoration.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#567 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 14th, 2018, 1:58 pm

We did have a nice turning of the leaves to yellow, and in other vineyards, red. Even though I know the red indicates disease, some of these vineyards have gone red for 15 years! My vineyard still has some nice colors, but yeah, there was a quick turning to brown in most vineyards.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#568 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 16th, 2018, 12:50 pm

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Back from a kick ass hunting/road trip. Didn't seem to miss much, just cold and droughty. Oh and Cali on fire again.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#569 Post by Steve Edmunds » November 16th, 2018, 3:05 pm

Utah?

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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#570 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 16th, 2018, 3:12 pm

Hey Steve. Hope your doing well. South Dakota. A long way to go but a heckofa sportsman's state. True wild pheasants and very successful even without a dog. 4 of us shot a total of 23 birds in 3 days just pushing wind breaks. Both mule deer and whitetail are there too. Didn't shoot any prairie dogs this time but that is great fun too. Back to work now!
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#571 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 17th, 2018, 8:08 am

Roughly 27 degrees every morning lately, and rises to around 70 or so. The smoke from the far away fire still hangs in the mountains. Looks like we might get rain the end of the week?
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#572 Post by Kim Z » November 17th, 2018, 3:24 pm

This interactive air quality map may be of interest:

https://www.purpleair.com/map?#2.87/38.09/-92.64
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#573 Post by Al Osterheld » November 17th, 2018, 6:51 pm

Purple Air is a great idea, but a bit unreliable at this point. It relies on crowd sourced data from sensors that may not be the highest quality. In my neck of the woods, there are data points of 179 and 91 about half a mile apart. I use Airnow which I think is maintained by the EPA and seems more reliable.

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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#574 Post by Gary Schulte » November 18th, 2018, 6:59 am

Casey always has terrific hunting trips and pics. We are in post harvest mode in the vineyard and a good friend hunts our property. Yesterday while working the vineyard(stowing nets) a shot rang out in the woods. One of our grape eaters bit the dust...see pic. This is perfect timing for the holidays as it means fresh meat and hot dogs. We do love venison in the winter...especially with a local cabernet franc.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#575 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 18th, 2018, 4:29 pm

Heckofa whitetail there. All of our deer were super fat and in prime shape. Backstraps the Saturday after Thanksgiving!
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#576 Post by Gary Schulte » November 18th, 2018, 6:12 pm

Casey - The deer seem to be super healthy this year and they have moved back in to the forest around our vineyard. Saw another good size buck today on the west side of the vineyard. We were in a stare down for 30 seconds at no more than 50 ft. Our hunter's daughter is coming home for holiday break from MIT....she hopes to get in the action on Thanksgiving weekend. She's a member of the MIT rifle team.

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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#577 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 19th, 2018, 8:24 pm

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Working on water reporting compliance issues today. Installed staff gauges in a couple of our ponds Trying to make the water cops happy.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#578 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 20th, 2018, 9:19 pm

Starting to feel some south winds tonight. Hoping for significant rainfall the next few days.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#579 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 21st, 2018, 9:02 am

It has rained lightly overnight and is doing the same now. A very welcome change.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#580 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 21st, 2018, 10:18 am

OK, it is a downpour. Still welcomed. I drained and turned off all the vineyard and landscape irrigation yesterday - glad I did not wait until today. A bit nasty out there, but should be good for fire relief.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#581 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 21st, 2018, 5:44 pm

.15 but promises of better and bigger things with the next storm. Happy Thanksgiving to the few loyalist who follow this thread. The farming cycle never ends. Already worrying about having enough people to prune this winter.
Thankful to have a job with such opportunities to work with other crazy, passionate and driven people. I'd never be able to do a 'normal' job.
The countdown begins. 4 more cycles/seasons.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#582 Post by Al Osterheld » November 21st, 2018, 7:37 pm

Usually, y'all get more than us. My neck of the woods received 0.28", although pretty spread out and it never rained very hard. But, it's a start and the wind and rain really cleared the air and I saw the fills for the first time in a couple of weeks (until the rain clouds descended).

Happy Thanksgiving to your and your crew (and all the other farmers)!

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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#583 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 22nd, 2018, 8:11 pm

Raining a lot and very steadily. I had the forethought to drain the drip irrigation to the vineyard and also the irrigation system to the 2 yard areas. Just water coming from the well to the house, now. But I will bet I still get a water/pipe break here somewhere when we get into the low 20s.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#584 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 23rd, 2018, 2:29 pm

48 hour total up to the minute is just shy of 2" Heavenly!
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#585 Post by Andrew Demaree » November 23rd, 2018, 4:40 pm

Posting for Merrill:
A1E54099-C3C2-4E4E-B4F4-338194D47D24.jpeg

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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#586 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 23rd, 2018, 4:50 pm

Andrew Demaree wrote:
November 23rd, 2018, 4:40 pm
Posting for Merrill:

A1E54099-C3C2-4E4E-B4F4-338194D47D24.jpeg
Thanks, Andy. For some reason, my vine leaves don't get hit by the frost and turn brown as many others do. Still hues of gold and reddish leaves. Definitely not close to pruning.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#587 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 23rd, 2018, 5:06 pm

IMG_20181123_120051567.jpg
Ok last non-farming pic for the year. Aged South Dakota backstrap from my recent trip. We'll have leftover turkey tonight, but venison rib eye tomorrow!
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#588 Post by Edward H. Earles » November 24th, 2018, 7:23 am

Casey Hartlip wrote:
November 23rd, 2018, 5:06 pm
IMG_20181123_120051567.jpg
Ok last non-farming pic for the year. Aged South Dakota backstrap from my recent trip. We'll have leftover turkey tonight, but venison rib eye tomorrow!
Looking good there Casey. I used to kill a lot of deer. Back in October we hosted a dinner at our house featuring Italian wines, and Brassiole made from aged venison backstrap. [cheers.gif]

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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#589 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 27th, 2018, 5:09 pm

IMG_20181126_084347248.jpg
Went for a pretty good walk yesterday. This pic is some of the last fields we drilled cover crop in and you can see it's already coming.
My crew has started pruning. Lots of acres to do. I also found a few big piles of bear scat near the Gewurtz field that we left some fruit. Everybody's gotta eat!
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#590 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 28th, 2018, 9:05 am

IMG_20181128_084037672.jpg
Here's a shot of the early planted. The ribbons from the seed drill are almost gone.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#591 Post by Casey Hartlip » November 28th, 2018, 8:40 pm

Getting some serious pre-storm south winds out there now. My guess is 20-30 mph. Hoping tonight brings some measurable rainfall. Customer checks starting to roll in. Not too early to contact customers with expiring contracts to see where we stand. I may have picked up two new guys who want to prune.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#592 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 29th, 2018, 11:50 am

SERIOUS rainfall all night and all morning. We are not yet down to bare vine, but we have lost lots of vine leaves in the last couple of days with wind and rain. Won't think about pruning until February/March.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#593 Post by Merrill Lindquist » November 30th, 2018, 12:24 pm

Today is beautifully sunny, but on the cool side: 55 degrees at noon.

I never did put a cover crop down this year...the crews were still picking, and by the time I thought I would get some seed down, I already had a nice green crop growing! Looks like all the various seeds we planted last year used that first rain to get going this year...that's a beautiful thing.
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#594 Post by Stewart Johnson » December 1st, 2018, 7:56 pm

Was probably due to re-seed the cover also, but I didn't want to disturb everything that sprouted in the Oct 1, 2 rains. Plus, I was buried in grapes and didn't really have time. I was afraid all that grass might have died in the ensuing dry weeks, but it looks like it's thriving after the recent rains. Sometimes, laziness pays off.
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Paul Gordon
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#595 Post by Paul Gordon » December 2nd, 2018, 9:24 pm

We got 8.5in of rain over the last two weeks. The ground sucked it up with little run off. I think now primed for the next big storm.
Our first hard frost last night. What few leaves are left will be gone by next weekend.
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Karen Troisi
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#596 Post by Karen Troisi » December 3rd, 2018, 1:14 pm

Brrrr - damn cold out there this morning. We bottled our 2017 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay at the winery and it was 33 degrees at the start.
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Casey Hartlip
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#597 Post by Casey Hartlip » December 4th, 2018, 7:20 am

Big, big big south winds all night but no rain with it. Still blowing hard out there now. Looks to me like this storm is getting torn apart. When I went to bed last night I was expecting to wake up to moderate rain. Go figure.
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Merrill Lindquist
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#598 Post by Merrill Lindquist » December 5th, 2018, 11:06 am

I just read on one of the feeds that arrives in my mail each day a quote from Michael Twelftree, who believes in the power of the vineyard. His words: "The day you pick the grapes, you make the wine."
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#599 Post by Karen Troisi » December 5th, 2018, 4:33 pm

Today we blended our auction lot for Premiere Napa Valley and tasted through our 2017 cabs. Loving what we have in barrel - every vintage has its own unique personality but our 17’s are similar to 14’s at this point. Anyone else tasting through now?
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Re: 2018 Vintage West Coast Weather Thread

#600 Post by Merrill Lindquist » December 5th, 2018, 6:04 pm

Karen Troisi wrote:
December 5th, 2018, 4:33 pm
Today we blended our auction lot for Premiere Napa Valley and tasted through our 2017 cabs. Loving what we have in barrel - every vintage has its own unique personality but our 17’s are similar to 14’s at this point. Anyone else tasting through now?
Yes, Karen, I tasted a composite of all my 2017 barrels with 6 customers who know my wine well. Thaey asked if they could buy...it is very good. I told them it would be another 6 months before I have an offer out there.
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