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Sunday, October 23, 2011

2011 - fall colors

This post was originally about how bad it all is. How the pickers took four days to pick one acre as it fell from 25.5 to 21 brix in the sticky clay mud, berries went red to pink, bloated with water and exploding. The labor shortage was clearly in effect here in Lake County as in other places, so little operations such as ours were out of luck. Then the early season reds started to come in and they were all skanky and screwed up from the two inches of rain while trolling, self-important wine columnists heralded the low-alcohol, high-acid vintage without  understanding that rain deadens acidity and ruins tannin maturity. They will be the first to complain about thin, astringent wines too. More than a half-inch is bad in Bordeaux too you weenies. Look back over your vintage charts and get a life.

And suddenly, it was very cold. Outdoor tanks without heating. Ever wonder how long it takes to heat six tons of grapes ten degrees with a propane burner? I know the answer.

But, then the sun came out. And it stayed out. For two weeks the weather has been perfect. Wife-beater and flip-flop perfect. And then the Primitivo came through beautifully while the Muscats finished up their fermentations more nicely than expected. Three small lots of Sangiovese, three different chances, three different clones, three different faces. Nebbiolo just came in looking amazing and a few more goodies are working. Montepulciano is still to come, the Barbera is back on track for another five days in the 80's and the Aglianico could not possibly look any better.

It still does not feel like true fall, but the vines are slowly starting to shut down. One of the interesting things this time of year is how pretty the virused vines are. Of course, viruses are bad, though sometimes scurrilous sommeliers talk of them as convenient crop limiters and retarders of overripening. There are many types within each family and often the greatest mystery is how. Nematodes are a big problem/vector for fan leaf, as are mealybugs for leaf roll - of which there are at least seven types. Fleck is always out there too. Newly planted vines from clean, safe and certified sources show viruses. All of the Petite Sirah we planted is showing virus in its third year. But, they are also very pretty.

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