Story by David Vergari, Thornton Winemaker | Pictures courtesy of GrapeShooter.com and Tom Plant
The 2011 harvest ended at the Thornton Winery (located in Temecula, Ca) just within the past fortnight. The last grape deliveries arrived on October 28; one week later the remaining red lots were pressed off, having completed their primary fermentations. We’re entering the most critical period in a wine’s life: waiting for the secondary fermentation to finish, for once it’s done, we can sulfur the lots and go to barrels. It’s a vulnerable time and I look forward to seeing this phase end. Without the Sulfur Dioxide, there’s
always the chance that some rouge bugs will crash the party. We have to be vigilant and keep things topped or gas vacant headspace above the wine with Carbon Dioxide to create a protective blanket. This too shall pass and not soon enough.
What is my take on the 2011 crush in the Temecula Valley? Lower yields for one (this was also the case elsewhere in California). This ought to tighten up the supply side in a major way. As for the weather, we started picking on August 10 when it was summer-warm. The inevitable heat-wave showed up in late-August/early-September, which is no big deal, we’re used to it. We worked with our growers and Drake Enterprises to ensure that the vines kept receiving water to keep ’em from going into vascular shock. Grape sugars inevitably rise during a heat spike, then recover to lower levels once the it passes. The key is not to panic and pick too soon. This is a test one’s nerve and resolve, but I’ve been through enough of them to be patient and wait–most of the time things work out just fine. We were extremely fortunate to avoid problems with excessive rainfall and rot that occurred elsewhere, particularly in the North Coast. In fact, I think that the wineries here were blessed with some ideal weather tailor-made for ripening red grapes to their fullest. Time will tell how the wines turn out, and no, I am not going to hype the vintage because that’s ridiculous IMO. Let’s just say that we’re off to a good start. And that is one huge relief!
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