As Harvest Approaches

August 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Harvest is approaching quickly all throughout Virginia (and has actually already started in some vineyards, where they’ve already picked grapes like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay).  Wineries are picking much earlier in 2010 than in previous years because the vines are ripening grapes much quicker than usual, due to the early bud break we had in spring, and the dry, hot weather we’ve had all throughout July and August.

Every year’s weather and growing patterns are certainly unique, and this year has been more unique than any I’ve encoutered.  I’ve never seen so much snow so constantly throughout the winter here (or even in Ohio, where I grew up, and where snow is not so rare).  We had early bud break, and then a bad frost which hit many out Loudoun’s vineyards (we were lucky at Sunset Hills – all we lost was our small vegetable patch).  Spring was very wet and very vigourous, and then summer came with the opposite – hot and dry.  We had 17 days in July over 90 degrees.  I don’t know how many in August, I stopped counting.

Grape and juice samples from Sunset Hills Vineyard #1

While there are a large matrix of factors which will determine the quality of the 2010 finished wine, it looks as though the reds throughout Virginia will be more like 2007, 1999, and 1998.  Higher-alcohol, big, fruity, lush, and without quite as much acidity as we get in more “classic” years like 2008 and 2009.  The whites will have more concentration of fruit, and less minerality – they will be “bigger” wines.

At Sunset Hills we’re expecting to begin picking our earlier ripening fruit in about two weeks, but much depends on the weather between now and then.  As we’ve already gotten such a memorable year from Mother Nature, I don’t think it’s feasible to predict what’s to come.  We’ll just react as best we can, be prepared for anything, and strive to make the best wine possible.

Hope to see some of you at the winery in the next month or so.  Harvest is a great time to be visiting your local farms and vineyards!


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