Last Friday, August 19th, was the kickoff of the 2016 harvest for Clif Family Winery. Our first lot was the Amendola Sauvignon Blanc, which is the foundation of our Rte Blanc. Harvested just two days later then 2015, the fruit was the perfect balance of golden and green clusters, bringing both bright acidity and tropical flavors to the juice. This lot is now quietly fermenting and is on its way to the next vintage of Clif Family Rte Blanc.
The weather has been sunny and mild over the last week, with a similar pattern forecasted for the next 7 days. This cooler weather is helping to spread out white grape picks and allowing winemakers to precisely plan harvest days. On the horizon here at Clif Family, next week we have Viognier coming from the Fortuna Vineyard in Oakville, as well as additional Sauvignon Blanc from Ryan’s Vineyard in Oak Knoll.
On the red side of things, our Estate Howell Mountain Cabernet has finally finished veraison. We have completed all viticultural passes and will cross our fingers for more heat and sunshine in September and October! The Zinfandel out at the Farm is 23 brix and ripening nicely. In 2015, this block was harvested on August 28th, but with a heavier crop and this cooler weather, I expect it will have at least another 10 days on the vine.
In the winery, we have many new staff members this year, both full time and harvest interns. It’s very exciting to be working with this group of talented people! They have their stash of Clif Bars and are geared up for the long work days ahead. Last week, we were all joking about how each year we have to work on the Labor Day holiday. “What is Labor Day to us?” they asked. My response was that Labor Day is the day when harvest goes from calm to crazy. So, we have ten days to enjoy these calm, orderly harvest days before the controlled chaos hits.