After a bit of a roller coaster of a year, we wrapped up harvest 2019 on Friday, September 27.
Since 2013, we’d been selling our Russian River Valley Pinot Noir fruit to Michael Browne and Dan Kosta of Kosta Browne Wineries and felt honored and lucky to be part of their vision. However, Dan and Mike sold the winery last year and after the large harvests of 2018 and the spring flooding at the Kosta Browne facility in the Barlow, we were told by the new owners that they couldn’t accept our grapes.
While the timing wasn’t great, it did give us a much needed opportunity to reimagine how we wanted to move forward, and we are very happy to have found a new home with Lynmar Estate and Lombardi Wines, both producers of fine Pinot Noir we always have admired.
Working with new winemakers has proven to be a gratifying challenge. Together, we revisited some of our assumptions about farming best practices and we are poised to make changes that will, we think, take our vineyard up a notch. Our goal has, first and foremost, always been to produce the finest quality Pinot Noir and we feel that we are taking another step in that direction.
Harvest this year happened three times.
On Tuesday, September 17, a nine-person, majority-woman crew from Cornerstone Certified Vineyard showed up at 6:30 a.m. to harvest blocks 4 and 5 of our 4.5-acre vineyard. We were fortunate to be joined by our kids, Angelina M. Lopez and Michael Lopez, who got to take part in their first harvest at the vineyard. They finally had a full sense of all the work we do as they joined in the days preceding untying the bird nets, lifting the bird and drape netting, and leafing; and then, on the day, helping haul and picking out leaves and detritus from the dumped trays.
We were also joined by winemaker Cabell Coursey. We worked with Cabell when he was the viticulturist over at Kosta Browne, and now are glad to be working with him again as the custom crush winemaker for Tony and Christine Lombardi’s label, Lombardi Wines. Cabell got in there on Tuesday -- hauling the bandejas or trays to dump them in the bins so the crew could keep picking – so Clay, Michael, and Celeste got in there, too. Angelina went and ordered pizza.
The majority of the rest of the fruit was picked Tuesday, September 24. An 18-person crew showed up at 3 a.m. to pick blocks 1-3. This was a more typical harvest for us, a large crew beginning early in the morning. Sadly, Angelina had returned home, but fortunately Michael was around to lend a hand. We had a great crew and a very efficient pick, and about ten tons of beautiful Pinot Noir was to the two wineries by 6:30 am!
The balance of our fruit will be picked earlier Saturday morning. We will be joined by our good friend Jim Barnes, who said he is looking for a “peak harvest experience.” That sounds good to us.
Once harvest is over, we look forward to a period of relaxation and catching up on lost sleep. There is equipment to service, farming plans to be drawn up, and a lunch or two to thank our team. Also, there is time for reflection and introspection. Every year, after harvest, we challenge ourselves to up our game. This year will be particularly exciting as we have the opportunity to sit with our new partner wineries, and discuss how to achieve our shared objective of producing the best Pinot Noir possible.