Joe’s Winemaking Notes: August 2016


We’ve been experiencing ideal grape growing and ripening conditions in Green Valley, and the grapevines are showing their happiness! The vineyard is in the best shape I’ve ever seen it, and is ripening a balanced crop in both the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blocks.

Temperatures during the month didn’t quite crack the 100°F mark, but they got close on three occasions. A reading of 99 degrees was our highest. These warm days were balanced out by a few days that never reached 75 degrees. It was a very comfortable weather month, for both grapes and humans!

Vineyard in Fog

One factor that makes Green Valley special is our cold evenings, during the summer months. Even on the days where the mercury topped out in the 90s, our nighttime lows dropped down into the mid 40s. This is perfect weather for maintaining the acidity and brightness, in our Burgundian varieties.

Vineyard in Fog

We saw zero precipitation in July. This is no surprise to us; yet, for those of you in other parts of the country experiencing the summer thunderstorm season, this may be hard to believe. The hills are brown and our vines are green and vigorous, with no irrigation needed at all this year.

How does this happen? We’ve learned a lot about the needs of our grapevines, since installing the soil moisture probes three years ago and beginning weekly testing of vine stress at that time. The key takeaway for us is that we were jumping the gun on irrigation in past years, assuming that the vines must be in need of water by July. As it turns out, our vines are still actively drawing from moisture reserves at 48 inches below the surface and deeper! It’s a continued reason to be grateful for the Goldridge soils at our estate.


In early May, I presented pictures of three grape clusters, as they appeared at that point in their development. Here they are again, but much further along the ripening curve. It should be a little more apparent which ones are which!

Your choices for clusters:
• Cherry Ridge Green Valley Syrah
• Estate Green Valley Chardonnay
• Estate Green Valley Pinot Noir

clustersCheck your answers at the end of these notes. Good luck!


Bottling Our Green Valley Pinot Blanc:
Here are a few pictures from the bottling truck, which arrived at the winery on August 1. We bottled this newest addition to our Green Valley wine lineup, and are excited to release the wine later this year! Bottling went very smoothly; and the wine is now resting, until its launch on this year’s Winter Solstice which occurs on December 21.

Pinot Blanc Bottling

The process of bottling wine in a mobile truck is quite interesting, with all the necessary equipment mounted inside a standard 48-foot semi-trailer. We provide empty bottles, cartons, Stelvin capsules with Saranex Oxygen Barrier Liner, and labels at the back of the truck. We then pump the wine to the filling spouts, and watch as full cases of wine come out the other side!

Pinot Blanc Bottling

Upcoming Action: Harvest is Coming!
By the time you read my next Winemaker’s Notes, harvest and fermentation will be underway! We expect to start harvesting our earliest blocks of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, before the end of August. Once we start, we won’t take a break until the end, when our Syrah is in the tanks in mid-October. It’s a grueling journey, but one that we look forward to each year. Harvest energy flows into everyone who grows grapes or makes wine, invigorating us and providing great experiences for all! Until those first grapes are ripe, we’ll be sanitizing the equipment, receiving new barrels from France and Missouri, and training a new group of harvest interns. I’ll be sure to share the highlights with you in September and October!

Now for the answers to our cluster identification quiz:
A) Chardonnay
B) Pinot Noir
C) Syrah