Around 6 a.m. last Wednesday, work crews began picking pinot noir grapes along Napa Valley's Silverado Trail, marking the start of the harvest season for the North Coast wine industry. With harvest now underway, Baldacci Family Vineyards is gearing up for the process that this much anticipated season entails.
According to Director of Operations, Michael Baldacci, “judging by the taste of the grapes in our vineyards, it’s going to be a great harvest”. This year the growing season has been pretty consistent with that of previous years. The good weather early on has allowed for an “early bloom”, which has in turn allowed for an “early harvest”. According to the NVG (Napa Valley Grapegrowers), this has been the earliest harvest since 2004 - about 10 years.
So what exactly does harvest mean?
It’s the process when the grapes go from vine to wine.
First, the grapes begin to go through “veraison” or a change in color from green to purple. About 60 days post veraison is when the “harvest” actually occurs. This is when the grapes have a lower acidity and higher sugar content which makes for the most desirable wine flavors.
Our winemaker, Rolando, measures the “brix” or sugar content of the grapes in order to determine when they are sweet enough to pick from the vines. However, Rolando also relies heavily on his own taste buds and what the grapes actually taste like when determining just the right day to pick. The “picks” typically occur between midnight and 8am when the plant is “asleep” and not undergoing it’s daily process of photosynthesis.
Following the “picks”, the fruit is brought our processing area at our Stags Leap Estate Vineyard, where the grapes go through a “destemmer”, a “crusher”, and then into the fermentation tanks where they stay for between 12-16 days. While in the fermentation tanks, the juice is subject to “pumpovers” that occur about three times per day in order to keep a consistent temperature throughout the tank.
Once the juice is fermented, it is drained into another tank and any remaining skins in the prior tank are squeezed in order to get all of the juice out of them. Finally the juice goes into the barrels and into the cave to be stored!
We are very excited for the harvest to begin and we hope you come and celebrate our new release with us in October!
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