Here the grapes sit patiently in their bins dreaming of one day becoming elegant, delicious wine.
128 bins of beautiful Syrah grapes are loaded and heading for the Columbia Crest Reserve Program.
At 1 am on Aug 17th Pablo, foreman, employee for 37 years, 2 Pellenc harvest operators, 3 tractor gondola operators, Macauley, and I gathered for coffee, safety review, prayer and the beginning of our 17th Coyote Canyon Vineyard Harvest.
By 3 am with a few belt tightening’s and small harvester adjustments we had completed our 1st semi load of grapes, Gewurtraminer, followed by 2 loads of Pinot Gris. The Earliest harvest on record has officially began. On Aug 18th Coyote Canyon Winery harvested its 1st grapes Albarino for its Sparkling Wine.
The week continued with harvest of Chardonnay grapes. The 1st merlot was harvested for North Star on Aug 28th and Aug 29th and Primitvo for Angel Vine and Prosser Vineyard and Winery. By Aug. 31st and Sept 1 Merlot and Chardonnay were in full Swing.
On Sept. 1 we harvested 1/3 of Coyote Canyon Winery grapes including all Albarino, Merlot and a large portion of our primitive, Syrah, Grenache, Tempranillo, and Graciano. Wow! Never before and probably never again will such a vast variety of grapes be harvested in one day. Justin is loving it!
On August 29th our vineyard had accumulated 2,936 growing degree compared to 2,641 on the same date in 2014. A difference of 11% or about 14 days. This is a record since Coyote Canyon was started 21 years ago. What will it be in the next decade?
The vineyard has continued to develop and mature at a record setting pace. On June 30th we had accumulated 1,360 growing degree days, GDD. We had 996 GDD on the same date last year. That is 37% increase in GDD than last year.
We began collecting our lag weights on June 29th as compared to July 14 last season. The vineyard is now more than two weeks ahead of normal development.
Machine leafing was completed on Friday June 26th and hand leafing will be completed early tomorrow July 3rd. We trim most blocks with a sickle trimmer. We started that operation on Monday June 29th. Our canopy size is slightly larger than normal because of the 1.4” inches of rain in mid-May. With the extensive heat the canopy has quite growing and looks very good.
We have broken 100 degrees now for 7 days in a row with a high of 111. It is forecast to stay above 100 degrees for another 5 days before dropping into the 90 on Wed. July 8th. The grapes have taken the high temperature very well. I think the larger than average cluster weights which I was predicted now should be quite normal. If the rest of the season just remains average harvest should begin in late August in the early varieties.
So much going on around here….shoot thinning, cluster counting, mainline water leak repair, the list is long. Our team is busy, busy, busy.
With shoot thinning complete, now Son Macauley is counting clusters. Yes, each block has to have its shoots & clusters counted. We have about 125 blocks. This is necessary to see that the crew has thinned to the appropriate crop level. This information collected will help us make decision in how to manage the crop for the rest of the season, including meeting our end of season goal for yield and quality.
Pablo, vineyard equipment foreman, and Antonio are keeping this vineyard running.
Bud break comes early! Our early bud break in our Chardonnay block has been around April 4th and this year it was over 25% open on March 28th. I believe our average bud break to be about April 10th . that would make us about 7 days ahead of what I would consider an early bud break and 12 days ahead of average. When the buds are open they are much more susceptible to cold. In the 21 years I have grown grapes we have never been damaged by a spring frost event. We have an excellent drainage and always ask our lord for protection. With milder than normal weather, we have continued to get our work done ahead of schedule. Pruning was completed by March 10th and taping and tying of cordons will be completed by April 7th. This is also more than a week early.
Watch to see how the vineyard develops this season, everything is looking to be early!
We had our 1st day of work in the vineyard on Jan.12th. All our seasonal and regular staff were eager to return to work after the holidays.
This year’s weather has been especially mild allowing us to get our pruning and field work done rapidly. We did get more winter moisture then last year. Nov.1, 2013 to Feb 28, 2014 we accumulated about 1 inch of moisture compared to more than 3 inches for the same period this winter.
We are probably about a week ahead of last year in our pruning. We should start taping and tying down the cordons about the 10th of March.
If the weather continues we are looking for an early bud break and praying for a repeat of last year’s quality.
Nov. 2 was our last day of harvest. By the end of the day a little rain and a lot of wind left many vines nearly naked without leaves.
I believe the 2013 vintage to go down in the records to be coyote Canyon vineyards Best! I believe this to be the most consistent vintage for quality across all varieties. We grow 26 varieties in our vineyard all appeared to be of excellent quality. On hot years the Bordeaux varieties are superior and I do believe this year that will continue to hold true. We fermented 17 varieties in our winery. It is an excellent vintage for Justin our new winemaker to excel his winemaking skills to continue to raise Coyote Canyon Wines to a higher level