A Look Inside the 2021 California Harvest
Here in the Golden State, we’re joined by Head Winemaker, Amy Butler, on the blog to take us through the exciting California grape harvest this year. For Amy, harvest started on August 28th with the fruit for our sparkling wine. Now, we’re in October and this week is going to be the last week we have fruit scheduled to arrive at the winery. At the tail end of this year’s harvest season, we wanted to take a look into what this year brought and what made it special! Learn more about how Amy joined our winemaking team here.
The fruit we’re bringing in this year is primarily from the Central Coast of California. From as far south as the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County to as far north as the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County and everywhere in between.
“The growing season was long and varied, with low temperatures during flowering and fruit set leading to fairly light yields. The long hang time, provided by a relatively mild summer, meant that the fruit had plenty of time to develop full flavors without the quick accumulation of sugar. In Monterey County especially, morning fog lingered in the vineyards, delaying ripening even more. What we’ve seen so far is exceptional quality with only slightly diminished yields, and a very long, protracted harvest season.” - Amy Butler
One of the most important aspects of sourcing grapes and making wine is building relationships throughout the process. This year, Amy had the pleasure of meeting Kirk, a farmer she met sourcing grapes for our sparkling wines. Everyone plays an important role in the bottles of wine you know and love. “From the tractor operators, to the barrel coopers, to the harvest schedulers, the sugar samplers, and the press operators. It’s crucial to create fruitful partnerships with our grower and production colleagues, the people who work side by side with us every day to make what we do a success.”
Kirk is a grape-grower who also has avocados and pigs too. For Amy, the grape farmers are some of her favorite people. Without our viticultural (grape-growing) partners, it would be impossible to do what we do.
Harvest With Amy Butler
“As soon as I began tasting the fruit Kirk had grown, I knew it was exactly what I wanted for the sparkling base wine for this vintage. My first visit to his vineyard I knew I needed to measure the sugar content, pH, and acidity as soon as possible. I could already feel the wine that was inside those tiny, seedy little pockets of juice we call grapes.
I was not expecting the grapes to be so ripe yet that I’d forgotten my gear. I had my clippers, but no buckets, and two blocks of Chardonnay that needed sampling!
Lucky for me, Kirk also raises pigs. That’s when he handed me a large, transparent, blue plastic sock, with an elasticized top, meant for pulling on over one’s boots while mucking around pigsties. This would be the perfect container for 10-15 pounds of Chardonnay grapes.
How I wish I had a photo of these blue booties filled with grapes, like a neon gift from Santa. My team at the winery were also amused with my new containers for picking. We crushed the grapes from Kirk’s vineyard, tested them and scheduled the harvest for that Saturday.
After I left the winery that day, I got a text from Kirk: “Do you need more pig booties for your other vineyards?” Humor is part of what builds a long-term winery/grower relationship. Along with impeccable fruit quality. We’ll be back for more next year.”
and the Winemaking Team