It's now October, and the last tanks of 2021 Pinot Noir have been drained and put to barrel. It's been a really compact harvest, with everything seeming to get ripe at about the same time, making it a bit challenging in terms of crush capacity at the winery! All that said, fruit quality has been remarkable, with great color and flavor in Pinot, and nice acidity across the board. The summer was actually on the cool side, and even though we saw some heat spikes around Labor day, the nights stayed quite cool, and the vineyards held up really well. Yields were below normal, with lots of small berries, making for good concentration in the wines, at least as it looks at this early stage. Currently, all the Pinots in barrel are starting to undergo malolactic fermentation, (converting malic acid to lactic, which softens the wine a bit).
Adding to the above discussion about grape ripeness, I would add that assessing when to pick is seldom simply about chemistry, and that in a given vineyard or block, you can find a wide array of analyses that may lead to different decisions. As a result, the final choice of when to pick may come down to less technical, more experience-driven parameters...like, what condition is the canopy (leaf area) in, how much dehydration are we seeing in the fruit, and what sort of weather is forecast for the next days. You may also look to steer choices based on what has already been picked (and whether those fermentations met your expected numbers), or you may target different wine styles from individual blocks based on what blend you expect that fruit to fit into. Likewise, once in the winery, you may approach fermentation in different ways depending on what style of wine you're hoping for from an individual pick. This might involve different yeast choices, higher or lower fermentation temps, and less or more contact time on the skins, for example.
For the 2021 wines, we're at the start of a longish road, but our next challenge will be to circle back to the 2020 vintage and choose the blends for the Mahoney Estate group of wines... certainly one of our favorite activities, as we have the luxury of only using the best 10% or so of the vintage in these wines! Stay tuned...