As I write this, we are awaiting a true late September heat spike in our area – one that both excites and scares the heck out of me . . .
It excites me because, as of now, we really did not have much of a ‘typical summer’ in Santa Barbara County this year. Overcast skies and moderate temperatures were the norms for the past few months, not the exceptions. Therefore, the grapevines have all-to-slow ripened, leaving plenty of grapes that would have been picked long ago in previous vintages still hanging – apparently staring at us all, laughing at us, and tempting us to pick them, even though we know they are not ready . . .
It scares me because this heat spike is going to provide us with prolonged temperatures in the triple digit range for at least 3-4 days, with little daytime let-up in sight. The temps in the Santa Ynez Valley will fall back to the mid-50’s at night, but not to their usual mid-40’s, meaning acid levels are bound to fall faster than usual. In addition, we could see some mighty bouts of sunburn on the grape skins themselves . . .
So what does this all mean? First and foremost, we will be picking more grapes sooner than we would have had this spike not happened. To this point, all we’ve picked is our Gewurztraminer which, by the way, is already tasting great! Next up will most likely be our first ever viognier – one that we are really really excited about working with this year! Our hope is that the acid levels hold up long enough to allow for good sugar accumulation and flavor development.
This also means that certain blocks that we thought we might not pick until November may, and I repeat may, come in earlier than expected. We really don’t know what the total outcome will be of this spike until after it’s over – and until we
see what happens next with Mother Nature.
All in all, though, we’re in for an interesting harvest – and we’ll keep you guys in the drivers seat with us as best we can!