Rockin' October at The Summit Area Wineries
With harvest still in high gear well into mid-October, you'll find tons of fermenting fruit to tempt your olfactory lobes at the crushpads of your local wineries. Harvest officially began for Poetic Cellars on Friday, September 4, with a small bit of Pinot Noir from a vineyard on Rider Ridge (near Vine Hill Winery). Burrell School picked six tons of Estate Pinot on Tuesday, September 8, along with Loma Prieta, who managed a spectacular two tons of Estate Pinot, a harvest high for this tiny, high-altitude vineyard. Muns Vineyard harvested five tons of Pinot on Wednesday, September 9, which was headed over to Savannah-Chanelle. Subsequent pickings are destined for Soquel Vineyards and Silver Mountain, where Tony Craig's Sonnet brand will also be crushed. This year's Pinot looks plump and tastes delicious, and in the Summit area, fires, thankfully, were not a factor.
I'm frequently asked if wildfires affect wine grapes. The answer is, unfortunately, yes, and not in a good way. Grapes are most susceptible to smoke taint from about six days after veraison until harvest, so this is the worst time to be exposed. Vineyards in the Bonny Doon area were definitely exposed during the Lockheed Fire, and the extent won't be known until harvest - and beyond. What can be done? Washing the grapes won't help at all: the vines actually take up the smokey components through leaf transpiration and deposit them in the grape skins. This means reds are far more adversely affected than whites, although you might think otherwise. Why? We ferment reds on the skins, whereas we usually press whites off immediately and get them into stainless or wood for fermentation.
What can you do for severely smoke-tainted wines? Besides prayer, which should never be counted out, the most effective treatments are nanofiltration with special membranes and reverse osmosis, conducted by specialty service providers. Despite their high cost, even the best processes can strip only the wet ashtray components from the taste: the smokey aromas persist.
After some time in the barrel, these nasty characteristics can be further amplified. Alas, this is one cigar that just won't quit. Cue up Pink Floydâ€¦
- October 24, 6 to 9 p.m.: Big Basin Vineyards winemaker dinner at Vino Locale in Palo Alto.
- October 24, noon to 5 p.m.: Generosa Fall Open House. The fabled "Tuscan Wedding" returns! Call (408) 489-3441 for details.
- October 31st: Burrell School hosts the first wine club "cellar session" for November club wines.
- October 31, noon til 5pm: Poetic Cellars, Harvest Halloween