2013 Harvest

Being so closely involved with the harvest decision is always tough. Picking at the right time is always a guess on the upcoming weather. This year, the warm, dry fall has been excellent for ripening the grapes. However, the day of harvest was either going to be the 19th of October or the 26th. Based on the weather on the 12th, there was going to be some rain in the week (bad). This meant that the 19th was going to be a poor day to harvest. However, leaving them on the vine always opens up additional problems. This is namely the unknown that the weather could be worse. I tend to be safe than sorry, so I’ll have them picked earlier to ensure no more bad weather comes. Luckily, the week of the 12-18th produced hardly any rain (shocker, weather people were wrong). So, the harvest was done on the 19th of October. I took two cars down to Rhode Island to pick up the grapes. In years past, I have tried many different ways to get the grapes, with little success. This year, I provided the vineyard with all of the used lugs they would need beforehand. Then, when I went to pick them up in my Subaru Impreza (the Cab Car) and Toyota Corolla (the Merlot Mobile), everything was waiting for me. I simply loaded the lugs in my cars (with no major space issues), and drove off. It’s about 1 h 15 m by car from my house, so it was about 3:50 when I got back home. We waited for a few people to come by to help with the crush. I had previously sanitized all of my equipment and was ready to go. We started with the Cabernet Franc. We had done about 50 lbs, when a clanking noise started. I knew that I had lost a bolt, so 5 minutes of repair work fixed it. (For some reason, the bolt was missing a lock washer, which caused it to loosen). We then proceeded with the remaining 200 lbs. With people taking turns, it took about 1 hour to do 250 lbs. Not bad, but not the greatest speed. The Merlot went a little quicker, about 45 minutes. I brought everything downstairs and started heating it up. The Brix on the Merlot was 21 (a little lower than last year), and the Cabernet Franc was 22). I didn’t bother doing the TA or pH as these wines never have a problem with acidity. Also, I’m not a fan of removing acidity, so the TA and pH will not be manipulated. I first added about 25 ppm of SO2 to knock down any problems. The fruit looked good, so I was not worried about mold or anything of that nature. I mixed up 3 grams Lallzyme EX for addition for each batch. I also added the recommended dosage of Opti-Red. The first year I made wine from these grapes, I did not use any enzymes or additions and ended with a rose. Last year, I used the enzymes and ended with some good color. After about 12 hours, I added in FT Rouge tannins. It specifically mentions to not put the FT Rouge at the same time as the enzymes, as the tannins will bind the enzymes. I then waited for the must to heat up to approximately 65 before I would pitch the yeast.