Monday, February 06, 2006

Vilafonte 2006 Harvest Blog - Day 2

Vilafonte 2006 Harvest: Day 2 Saturday Feb. 4
Yesterday I mentioned the “cast of characters” needed to grow Vilafonte wine.
Here they are:
In the Vineyard:

Dr. Phil (Freese)
- Vilafonte Vineyard designer. Plans & directs winegrowing. Sensitively moves grapes to harvest readiness.
Ronald Spies – Vilafonte Vineyard manager. he’s where the “rubber meets the road”. He gets the right things done at the right time.
Fossie and crew – They remove the grapes from the vine into small lugs, carefully. And in winter (July & August), will prune and tie the vines.
Ronald’s father Johan Spies - Essential harvest helper. He drives the harvested grapes to the winery.
Julie Lohwasser – EHH. chief sampler, data collection vineyard & winery. Julie does ripeness sampling; vineyard work QC; berry variability analysis and phenolic maturity sampling.
In the Winery:

Zelma Long – Vilafonte winemaker and wine style maven. Decides on the harvest and structures winemaking
Bernard le Roux – winemaker; new team member; “gets the right things done at the right time”, in the winery. Bernard oversees the work and works with the crew.
Miles Mossop and crew - sort the grapes, mix the wine during fermentation, fill and clean the presses, clean and fill barrels, and more of the many types of work needed to grow the wine.

Mike Ratcliffe
– advice, humor, brings cold beer; sells the wine.

Sugar development in winegrapes

Grapes have a particular motive for developing sugar; the grape berry carries the seeds; the tasty ripe grape is an attractive package (to birds; humans; dogs, and in the Cape, occasionally baboons.), and thus, the vine spreads its seeds.

Those supermarket grapes you buy are only about 16% sugar and usually are heavily cropped. Our wine grapes when ripe are usually 24-25% sugar, and have intense flavors; without which we cannot make good wine. But sugar is only part of what makes grapes tasty and wine a pleasure. More on that tomorrow.

However, today, here is some historical information to illustrate that each vintage has its particular ripening characteristics..look at this graph to compares the rate of sugar increase per day, for Cabernet, for 2004, 2005, and 2006.

(graph by Dr. Phil Freese)

Today we (Zelma, Phil, Ronald, Bernard, Julie) spent the morning at Vilafonte looking at our Merlot and Malbec; considering ripeness and readiness to pick. Despite the wind and warmth, the vines look very chipper; leaves nice and green, berries firm and fresh, definitely on a healthy track for ripening. Nothing is ready yet. Maybe next Wednesday? Julie will sample all these blocks Monday and we will visit them again Tuesday morning.

Zelma Long