Harvest is here!

Harvest has started in our neck of the woods, and not just for the sparkling wine houses.  We’ve started to help pick some of the  Pinot Noir vineyards we tend.  Here are a few photos from last week:






Million Dollar Question: When to Pick?

We’re in the thick of the harvest business and after months of preparing, tending to, and coaxing fruit from these vines we come to the annual moment of truth… when to pick?


Sonoma County Zinfandel. Photo taken last week.

Winemakers across these wine-growing regions have been taking random samples of the vineyard periodically, squishing the grapes and testing the juice for sugar content and acid levels.  Mostly, we talk about brix, or the sugar concentration.  Table grapes that we buy in the super market generally have brix of 17-19.  Wine grapes are picked any where from 22 – 29. The sugar, ripeness (taste and whether the seeds have turned from green to brown), as well as acidity, and uniformity of ripening across the cluster and vineyard block very much effect the final wine.  So, at what point to pick is vital.


Picking Pinot

leepin harvest2014

It’s a great feeling when you get to see a project through. That’s how we felt last week when we had the opportunity to pick a Pinot Noir vineyard in the Russian River Valley that we had started working in January of this year.

When you work with grapes, the job is to nurture each vine individually and manage the vineyard as a whole. When to pick the finished product – ripe grapes – is actually up to the winemaker. Whoever is purchasing the grapes is using them as the raw materials for a beautiful wine. The growing season, elements, geographical features of the vineyard, and vineyard management techniques will all have effects on flavor. But the style of wine (bursting fruit flavors, bigger wines with higher alcohol contents vs. more traditional lighter alcohol wines with more restrained characteristics that might develop more over time, etc) starts with when to pick – at what levels the acidity and sugar exist in the grape.

Pinot Noir is a thinner skinned grape that ripens before thicker skinned grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah.

Here’s to the 2014 vintage, cheers!