This week we are going to start harvesting grapes for the 2018 season. It will be a slow start with some Orange Muscats, Verdelho, and Chardonnay. The following week we will continue with some local (Lodi area) Pinot Noir and a few other black grapes. Old Vine Zinfandels harvest will probably commence on or about August 29-30. Sugars are moving about 2 points per week. The whole scenario (harvest) is at least a week later than last year.
One terrific quality that is starting to show up in this year's crop is the development of some potential excellent color in the grapes. The days are warm to hot, but the evenings are cool in Northern California. With the development of 2 brix points per week in the grapes, we have an ideal situation.
Last year we changed the source of our Chardonnay. We started picking a vineyard where the Chardonnay is thinned to a limited amount of bunches per vine. The vine was still grown with a good canopy. We ended up with sweet solid bunches with distinctive flavor and condition. We had such great success with the grapes that most wineries who bought the grapes last year doubled their order this year. Upon investigation this year, we found out they were Robert Young Clone and Doctor Olmo's Clone 4.
The Known Unknown
As we mentioned in the last Newsletter, the known unknown this year was freight costs. Freight rates are always based on spot market conditions. If a lot of product needing refrigeration is going east from California, rates are higher. This can be usually weekly situation but it also can be daily fluctuation. At this time rates are about 25% higher than last year. One thing for sure, it is going to take at least another day to delivery of the fruit.
There was a time during the last few weeks that it sounded and looked like the entire State was on fire. Around most of our grape growing areas that was not the case. One must remember these fires are in mountainous forest areas where population is minimal. They did create haze on some days that gave one an ominous feeling but there was no smoke or ash in the vicinity of the grapes that we pick.
For the very first time we are on the way to receive orders from over 30 wineries from all over the country. With all the competition that there is in the industry from finished wine, juices and competitors here in California and from the Northwest, we consider our buyer base one of the strongest in the industry. Thank You!!!