Wednesday, September 30, 2015

2015 The Harvest Notebook

Here at Bounty Hunter headquarters we’re surrounded by what looks to be another terrific harvest in progress. We checked in with our winemaker Tim Milos for the lowdown, and here’s what we scribbled in our notebook.

Tim Milos, Winemaker
Napa Valley 2015
Across grape varieties, the crop yield is relatively low, due to lots of spring shatter (which leads to less berries being created), but almost uniformly gorgeous. A light misting rain in mid-September was quite helpful, giving the grapes a bath and a little sip before the final push. The heat wave of early September had driven up sugars, but the weather of the last few days has brought them right back in the wheelhouse.

Bounty Hunter Vineyard Sources (For Justice, Waypoint, etc)

·         Brown Ranch Pinot was harvested in early September, with tight and uniform clusters. The vineyard managers were thrilled about how little they had to do in terms of dropping fruit or having clusters rejected at the sorting table.

Hudson Vineyard in Carneros
·         The first pick of Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay went smoothly (two different blocks). The second pick was carried out the weekend of September 26th under ideal conditions.

·         We picked most of the To-Kalon Cabernet on Monday Sept. 21st. Here, we had to do very little crop thinning during the season. Flavors and sugars look awesome. The berries are tiny, with a high skin to juice ratio, so we should be looking at some linebacker reds.

·         Dr. Crane Cabernet Franc, our secret weapon in the cellar, was picked September 24th. It looks beautiful. Crane Cabernet Sauvignon was picked on Monday the 28th in gorgeous conditions.

·         Spring Mountain “Terra Buena” was picked on the 23rd, so there‘s not the typical variation between mountain fruit and valley floor. Everything is pretty much ripening at the same time.

Terra Buena Vineyard overlooking St. Helena, Spring Mountain

All in all, it’s been a pretty easy harvest so far. There might have been some raisining or sugar imbalances if the heat kept up for a few more days, but the heat thankfully moderated recently. Unless people are going for crazy ripeness, 90%+ of Napa fruit will be picked by the first weeks of Fall, if not before. Yields are probably 20%-25% down from “normal” based on the initial fruit set, but things look phenomenal. In short, anyone who screws this harvest up needs to consider a new line of work outside of the fermentation sciences!