' Ken Brown - 2010 Harvest

2010 Harvest

11/9/2010:  As mentioned before, this has been a vintage of extremes... with variable temperatures and even rain. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs are finishing malolactic in barrel and the Syrah is about ready for pressing. Surprisingly enough, the Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs are showing extremely well at this point. It is a little early to tell with the Syrah, but we may be surprised by this vintage after all!

10/28/2010:  After a couple week break, the late ripening Syrah is finally harvested--our last grapes of the season.

10/11/2010:  Tomorrrow we bring in the last of our Pinot Noir from the Salsipuedes Vineyard.  Then we are just waiting for the Syrah. This has been a vintage of extremes!! Stay tuned for more information as we might have more time to write.

9/30/2010:  We harvested 3.7 tons of the Nielson Chardonnay on Tuesday and it is now in barrel, beginning fermentation.  We harvested the first crop from the lovely Rita's Crown Vineyard on Tuesday, a total of 1.73 tons.  On Friday we will harvest the first grapes of the year from Rio Vista Vineyard, the Calero selection of Pinot Noir.  By this time next week we will have brought in the majority of our Pinot Noir.

9/27/2010:  We will start the 2010 vintage tomorrow at 6:30 AM with the Nielson Wente clone Chardonnay. Next grapes will most likely be Pinot Noir from Rio Vista on Wednesday.

9/23/2010:  The forecast is for warm temperatures over the next 5-6 days so sugars should be moving up and grapes should be coming in soon!

9/20/2010:  I was encouraged to see some progress in development of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in our Santa Maria Valley Vineyards today. Nielson Vineyard Chardonnay is just beginning to lose its high acid lime/Pippin apple character and beginning to show some nice Fuji apple components in about 25% of the berries. The sun did not break out of the fog until about 11:00 AM. There was some moisture on the berries this morning, but the winds were beginning to pick up around noon, drying off the fruit so I do not think we will see much botrytis pressure. If we see more sun and less fog during the day, we should be picking the Nielson Chardonnay sometime next week or the following week.

The story is similar at the Garey Vineyard where our clone 115 Pinot Noir is patiently awaiting sunnier days. Since this vineyard is a little further west and cooler than the Nielson Vineyard, harvest is another few weeks out. The vines and the clusters look absolutely perfect. If we can get a few more heat bumps over the next few weeks we may be seeing some of the best Pinot Noir to come off of the Garey Vineyard ever which is an exciting prospect.

Our Syrah sites at both the Nielson Vineyard and Watch Hills Vineyard in Los Alamos are somewhere between 30 to 45 days away from being harvested. The Watch Hill Vineyard will be the first of these two to be harvested since it is a cool growing zone as opposed to the Nielson Vineyard which is a cold growing region. The berries are mostly fully colored at both sites and the vines look as if they will be able to endure this long cool growing season.

9/14/2010:  Sugars readings have remained fairly constant as day time highs hover in the mid 70’s to low 80’s in our vineyards. Most of the Pinot Noir vineyards have stalled with sugars in the 19 to 22 brix range which is well below the ideal level for top quality Pinot Noir.

8/27/2010: Ken is checking the vineyards and Deb is driving across the country.

8/24/2010: Excitement mounts as we begin to see the grapes ripen for yet another vintage.The 2010 vintage has been one of the coolest springs and summers on record for all of California’s coastal vineyards. We will need to have more heat in the weeks to come. If temperatures reach the mid 80’s fairly regularly in Santa Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley, this vintage will most likely be one of our best ever. If the weather stays on the cooler side for the next few months, we will be more challenged.

Because of the slower development of grape maturity this year we have had additional time to manicure all our vineyard sections to optimize sunlight into the fruit zone. Experience has shown that in cooler vintages the wine quality can be greatly enhanced by carefully pulling leaves in the fruit zone to ensure adequate exposure to sunlight and full, even ripening. I am very optimistic about the wines that await us for the 2010 vintage. Experience and patience will pay off but we will also need a little cooperation from Mother Nature.

8/19/2010:  The Brown Family (Deborah, Alicia and Ken) checks out Ken Brown's block of Pinot Noir vines at Rita's Crown Vineyard. Planted in 2007, this is the first vintage Pinot Noir will be harvested for wine production. The vineyard is located high atop the Santa Rita Hills at approximately 900 feet elevation on a steep, southwest facing slope. Soils are shallow and berries are small, generating high expectations for great quality. And the views are stunning!