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Categorized | California, General

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards

11hvst1 St. Francis Winery & Vineyards


Greetings from Sonoma Valley:

Harvest 2011 began just after sunrise at St. Francis Winery this morning with the arrival of 21 tons of hand-picked, Russian River Valley Chardonnay. These plump, night-picked grapes were translucent gold, sweet to taste at 24.2° Brix, and cold to the touch. By 9 am today we were at our hand-sorting tables to receive ten tons of dry-farmed Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley. Promising fruit indeed, and picked just hours after we earned a Gold Medal for our 2009 “Old Vines” Zinfandel and a Gold Medal and “Best of Class” for our 2010 Sonoma County Chardonnay at this weekend’s Sonoma County Harvest Fair.

Our late start to Harvest follows an unusual growing season of cooler weather with rains well into June. Hotter days through Thursday mean we’ll pick our quickly ripening Chardonnay and Zinfandel this week, followed by slower ripening Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the weeks ahead. We expect to pick grapes the day of our Annual Zinfandel BBQ on October 22—another reason for our guests to raise their glasses.
With this morning’s Chardonnay and Zinfandel, our tradition of Harvest in Sonoma approaches its third century. As far back as 1812, grapes were first planted by Russian colonists at Fort Ross on the Sonoma Coast. In 1824, thousands of grapevines were planted by the Franciscan Father, Padre Jose Altimira, at Mission San Francisco Solano (now the town of Sonoma). In the years that followed, cuttings from these Sonoma mission vineyards were carried on horseback to neighboring counties to start new vineyards. By 1854, the well tended vineyards of General Mariano Vallejo, the military Governor of Mexican California, were producing an annual income of $20,000. Settlers soon recognized that vines thrived in our balance of cool mornings and warm afternoons, and by the end of the 19th Century, Sonoma was very much about grapes.
Though much in Sonoma has evolved since those early days, the anticipation and excitement that surrounds each Harvest remains remarkably unchanged. We awake each morning, eager to see if the weather is as we had predicted, or better yet, as we had hoped. On our Crush Pad and hand-sorting tables, we speak of sugar levels and cluster size and early flavors and aromas of the grapes—all hints of what we might see, smell and taste in the bottle someday. And at the end of our warm Harvest nights in Sonoma, long after we’ve crushed the last grapes of the day, each of us remembers the joy, passion and downright exhilaration that connect us to every Harvest past, as we dream of what may someday be said of this one.

All of us at St. Francis Winery wish you the very best, at this and every Harvest.

silva sig St. Francis Winery & Vineyards
Christopher Silva
President & CEO

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