January 15, 2013 | Mark McKenna
I’ve always loved a good story.
And believe you me the wine world is full of them.
As a young winemaker I took every opportunity I could to listen to older, more experienced winemakers, grape growers and winery owners wax on about harvests past, production techniques and farming traditions.
But, the story told over and over again that I never quite bought was “The Harvest When All the Grapes Got Ripe at the Same Time”.
It has several different incarnations, but, basically the plot goes something like this:
that sure was a year!
We waited and waited for the grapes to get ripe and boy when they finally did, it all happened at the same time AND the crop was enormous.
Every tank, barrel, bin, coffee cup, and bucket was full of grapes.
The winery was bursting at the seams.”
Having never really seen a harvest like this over the years I had come to believe that the old timers might be romanticizing the old days a bit. Frankly I thought they were a little full of it.
Turns out they weren’t.
2012 was the most intense, unpredictable, overwhelming harvest I have experienced in 17 years of playing with grapes. What normally takes 8–10 weeks to accomplish we did in a little over 5. Our cellar crew; Steve, Chris, and Steven worked day in and day out from dawn to dusk. Fields where we expected 10 tons were producing 15 instead. Vineyards that normally ripen 3–4 weeks apart from each other were ripening on the same day this year. Every tank, barrel, bin, coffee cup, and bucket was full of grapes. The resulting wines are now starting to show themselves and quality is looking really good. But boy, was it one for the record books and a story I will be telling years from now.
Just like the rest of the old guys……