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Categorized | California, General

Crushpad Update


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October Newsletter
October 1, 2011

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The Over-Extraction of Sigmund Freud

Harvest tends to emblazon particular images in your mind, sort of like when you played Tetris and couldn’t close your eyes without seeing falling blocks. In my case, as I drift off to sleep, it’s vineyards – wondering what we should pick sooner vs. later in sort of an anthropomorphized dodgeball picking scenario – who’s the last vineyard to be picked? Part of me knows that I’m reliving my glory days of 6th grade where I was utterly dominant in dodgeball. Part of me thinks I just need more sleep. But one thing is certain and that is we have about 4 more weeks to pick our “team” and so far we’re pretty stacked.
Actually, on that front, let’s see who gets the closest: The first 100 people who go here (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/crushpad2011pick) can enter their guess of our last pick date of 2011. Whoever is closest will get an awesome bottle from my personal collection – you can even pick the region. If you’re wrong, then you send me a bottle. No? OK, scratch the last part. But it has to be one of the vineyards in our vineyard list and your answer has to be in by Friday. [Note to self: I think I’m going to regret this.] Professional psychics, Crushpad employees and especially Crushpad employees who moonlight as professional psychics are prohibited.

Crushpad Harvest Update Released
OK, most of our Pinot and white wine vineyards are picked out (we still have a few that will be picked mid-month and the Marsanne/Roussanne at Saralees always comes in end-October). We’ve got some Zin, and Petite Sirah in as well. However, we still have 75% of our fruit on the vine as this has been a long, cool growing season – a lot like 2010. The big difference is that yields are way down this year and that means that fruit ripens faster. So although the second half of the month will be nutty, it shouldn’t be the nail-biter of 2010. Certainly the fruit that has come in so far has been a-w-e-s-o-m-e.
To summarize the growing season so far: it’s sort of like 2005 (wet spring) combined with 2010 (cool temps), but with the concentration of 2007 (pure greatness). In most vineyards, we left significant cover crops in the spring that soaked up a fair bit of soil moisture (good to keep berry sizes smaller). Also, Mother Nature did us a favor in the spring and interrupted flowering a bit with some cold/rain that created some “shatter” – where you end up with fewer berries in a cluster. This lowers yields and improves ripening.
This year we also generally opened up canopies a bit more – especially in Cabernet sites that are prone to more herbal characteristics. Getting more sunlight on berries reduces green flavors, although too much sun can fry the grapes. De-leafing is more of an art than a science – kind of like Wall Street these days. By this I mean it’s completely random. In any case, our decision to expose more of the cluster to sunlight has worked out well this year.

From Here Forward
It looks like we’ve got a bit of rain (1/2 to 1”) early in the week and then it clears and gradually warms up. My guess is that we won’t be picking all that much next week but things should really get going the week of the 10th and it’s conceivable that we may even pick some Cabernet by the end of that week. Things should kick into gear the week of the 17th with most of the northern Napa fruit coming in plus the odd block of southern Napa Cab, plus most of the Syrah. With any luck, we’ll be able to get most everything else in the week of the 24th and then we can dress up on Halloween as clean-shaven, clean-clothed human beings – a novelty when even our pants are fermenting.
Making California Wine in 2011 – Quality over Quantity
We are rapidly selling out of vineyards and while we’ve been able to get a few extra tons here and there, 2011 will definitely be known as a turning point in the US wine industry. While the stuff we buy has never been cheap (even in the depths of 2009), we are now beginning to face a fruit shortage as little has been planted in the past several years. Since it can take 6-7 years before a vineyard really produces high quality fruit and another 2 years to finish the wine, most industry folks see an upcoming whiplash on pricing – which makes me happy we’ve got a number of long-term contracts in place!
Contact Rodney Gagnon (rodney@crushpadwine.com) or 877-946-3404 x 7400 to make a barrel this year. I’d definitely call in the next week or so.
Finally, if you’re in the mood for a barrel of Bordeaux, contact Stephen Bolger (stephen@crushpadwine.com). He’s going nuts in the middle of harvest right now in France but would love to hear from you!


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