Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Zelma's Harvest Observations 2008

Vilafonte, 2008

2008 will produce classic wines. And the personality and chemistry of our grapes has been quite distinct from 2007.
First a word about the weather. 2008 has been distinguished by a later bloom and cooler growing season, resulting in a later harvest for Vilafonte. Feb 15 was our first harvest day; the latest ever, but it was a smooth and relatively compact season; finishing on March 7.
During the harvest we saw the normal warm-sunny/cool-cloudy cycles; with light rain punctuating a few of them. For our Bordeaux varieties, with their open clusters, light crop and open canopy, the rain caused no trouble, indeed slowed rate of sugar increase and allowed continued ripening of flavors and tannins.
As a result, we were able to harvest ripe grapes at lower average sugars; with ripe, firm well flavored grapes coming off vines that looked quite “happy” – good green color and decent but not high vigor. And, as the grapes differed, so did fermentations. We noted a bit lighter color and higher tannins in the grapes, so were careful to get complete color extraction, and, after that, to manage the tannin extraction gently, to be sure we did not “over extract”, which can lead to harshness. A smaller than normal harvest allowed us to have excellent skin to juice ratios in the fermenter; perfect for getting “the goodies” (color, aroma, flavor, texture) from the grapes.
Fermentations went well this year, often finishing in barrels.
Overall, we estimate that our wines will be classic in structure; and marked with finesse, fine tannins, and fruit concentration, in the 2008 vintage.

Zelma Long
Winemaking Partner, Vilafonte
March 10, 2008
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