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This is an important and extremely aromatic time for us in caves. The wines have long since finished primary fermentation and we then keep several lots in tank for an extended maceration period. We then move the wine from tank to barrel and use a basket press at the very end to extract all the wine from the grape must. The grape must (pomace) that is leftover in the basket press is then take to be composted and later reapplied on the soils of our vineyard. It’s full circle and it’s part of what makes our wines excel year after year.
This is just a quick update on the progress in the cellar as our winemaker Alan keeps busy after the harvest. We hope you had a chance to see our recent blog posts this season on how the 2013 harvest went and also on a few fabulous recipes and wine pairings. We look forward to seeing you soon and hope you’re stocking up on Viader wines for the upcoming holiday season.
Exciting happenings at VIADER as we continue with our night harvesting schedule. Our 2013 harvest officially began two weeks ago on the evening of Monday, September 9th when we brought in a small block of our Syrah. Delia and I were just returning from dinner with some old friends on Spring Mountain. As we approached the winery, we could see in the distance what looked like fireflies in the vineyards under a thin crescent moon. Our harvest crew was wearing headlamps as they skillfully moved in between the vines, quickly picking only the best clusters into their small bins.We have several reasons for picking at night. Predominantly, colder temperatures help protect the fruit at harvest, slowing natural yeast and inhibiting any bacteria growth while preserving the fresh fruit flavors and acids in the grapes. Night temperatures on Howell Mountain and around Napa Valley can drop into the 50′s or 40′s even on summer days when we experience highs in the 90′s.
Within a couple hours of the nighttime harvest, the cold fruit is processed (destemmed and “crushed”) at the winery and then moves to the fermentation tanks where it is again cooled down to 40 degrees. This allows Alan, our second generation winemaker, to to do as long of a “cold soak” as possible and extract more color and distinct flavors from the cold skins. Read more about the cold soak philosophy in these article from Wines & Vines or Wine Spectator.
Secondly, both Delia and Alan have found that our harvest crew works easier in the cooler weather because they are more comfortable. We have less worry or issues with heat illness or dehydration when we avoid picking during the high temperatures that can plague a typical summer day on our fully exposed steep hillside.
Moreover, we discovered that night harvesting also allows us to be more efficient with the daytime schedule at the winery, since we can work on the wines in tank first thing in the morning. Alan Viader shares, “With night harvesting, the fruit comes in early morning (finishing at 3-4am typically) and then we arrive at 6am to crush the fruit before the sun peaks over the top of the mountain while its still cold. That then gives us all day to work the wines in tank.” He prefers this to having to wait for the fruit until late morning or afternoon and then working the wines in tank until late into the evening.Cheers to the 2013 vintage and to a Happy Harvest!
As August draws to a close, Alan is busy doing his diligent maintenance in anticipation of the harvest. Currently, he is checking sugar levels in the grapes and says they’re getting close to where he likes them to be. “The C-block Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc will likely be first to get picked,” says Alan. He noted that some blocks were already at 22-23 degrees Brix (25-26 is the desired level). And because of the recent warm weather, our small plot of Syrah may also be picked first.
Meanwhile, in the caves, Alan and his crew are also busy racking. They are currently racking all 2012’s (VIADER, “V”, VIADER Syrah, and DARE by Viader Cabernet Sauvignon) before the rush of harvest to make room for the 2013 wines that will be coming in. He and Delia are also whirling away at making blends. Alan recently racked & blended a small base or preliminary blend of the 2012 VIADER. He says, “It’s showing great right now but we may be adding or revising the blend in the future.” With the estimated bottling date of summer, 2014, he feels there’s time to watch the development of the wine and possibly make some small changes. In addition, he and Delia recently blended the 2012 DARE by Viader Cabernet Sauvignon by Viader and feels it’s going to be a beauty.
That’s the update from the vineyards and cellar at Viader. Please subscribe to our blog and consider contacting us to join our email list so we can keep you posted on our specials, offers and the progress at the winery.