While the Grenache and the pink wine start to ferment, the remainder of the harvest remains somewhere between late and endangered.
My personal casualty this year was the Chardonnay growing along my friend John Buechsenstein's fence line at his place in Mendocino, the source of last year's first-ever sub cellars Chardonnay. Labor Day a year ago, four of us trekked up there and harvested the yummy clusters, devoured a tasty lunch John made for us, and headed home for the crush and press in the driveway. The wine came out just fine: no oak, no malo, just Chardonnay fruit, pure and simple. John was nice enough to serve it at his daughter's wedding.
So, I'm kinda fond of those grapes, and I was planning to do a rerun this year. Trouble was, by the beginning of September, with the grapes still short of ripe, John spotted a major mildew bloom as he walked the vines. For a while, he/we thought there would be a couple hundred pounds to salvage. And then last weekend, there was just enough rain to raise the moisture level on the grapes and unleash a second mildew wave.
Worse, John explained to me over his cell as he surveyed the damage yesterday, the one clean stretch, the vines running alongside his driveway, has been done in by birds.
See why winemaking is easier than grapegrowing?
This harvest continues to be far weirder than usual all over the West Coast. Eastern Washington's wine country is weeks behind normal; growers are dropping crop and praying the rains don't come early. According to an article in Sunday's Yakima Herald, temperatures have been 14% below normal.
Even in normally toasty Paso Robles the weather has been anything but cooperative. Paso Westside grower Larry Stanton ran it down through mid-August on the redwinebuzz website, and things have not improved much since then.
And Dry Creek, the home of the backyard Zinfandel field blend that should be this year's prime sub cellars project? Locals agree that this has been one of the coolest seasons on record, and that the August heat spikes did their greatest damage to . . . Zinfandel.So, it's not just my Chardonnay. But bad as I feel for everyone on the left coast of the country, I feel worse about those poor darlings on John B's fence line. They deserved better.