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Allan Delmare
September 7, 2014 | Around the Winery | Allan Delmare

2014 Harvest is here!

The 2014 Harvest has started! The Seyval Blanc from our main Glenway vineyard (below) was harvested on August 29th. Seyval is usually the very first grape that we bring in from the vineyard - while the flavors have developed, the acid is still lively this early in the season...and that's the kind of fruit we need to make our crisp, bright Seyval Blanc.

Seyval Blanc

This past friday, we pulled in a small block of Chardonnay from one of our satellite vineyards (just down the road from us, outside of the small town of Flint Hill). We expect to bring in the rest of our Chardonnay (including the main block, which is just beyond the Seyval in the photo above), as well as our Viognier, by the end of September.

From there, we'll move into the reds. Beginning in mid-late September, we should start to see the first of the reds (Merlot?) coming in,  and finish with the late harvest Vidal Blanc in early November. But with all the activity going on, our job is to grow the best grapes possible, let nature work, and try not to mess things up. So I asked our wine maker, Theo smith, to give me the one bit of hardest that's most difficult. I was expecting him to mention the long hours and endless cleaning, so I was surpised when he said this:

"The most important part of harvest is patience," he said. "Waiting for flavor development is tough when you're also trying to preserve the natural acidity of the grape. It's a waiting game that has to be perfectly timed."

As the fruit ripens on the vine and the flavors develop in the berries, sugar levels gradually increase, while acid levels gradually decrease. Theo explains that "...if you're too eager to start 'making the wine,' you'll harvest before the fruit is ready...wait too long, and you'll end up with wines that lack structure."

The Vineyard Crew
The 2014 Rappahannock production team, from left to right: Philip Briggs, Joe Scadden, Frank "The Tank" Smith, Theo Smith, Andrew Lauria, Matt Hewitt. 

So, when it comes to harvesting any given block of vineyard, how do you make the final call?

"Know your vineyard site," says Theo. "That," he adds with a smile, "and pay attention to the weatherman...twenty-four hours can be the difference between making the best wine in Virginia...or bringing bad news to the boss."

...and we all prefer to keep dad happy : )





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