Completion of the 2021 Vintage!
I am excited to report that the 2021 vintage is in the books! The last of our Pinot Noir grapes arrived on October 13th and all new vintage wines are either resting in tank or barrels. This harvest will go down as a memorable one. Not because it was filled with wildfires, the threat of Covid or that it was difficult in any way. It will be memorable because it was mostly UN-eventful! The quality of the fruit was amazing, the pacing of the grape harvest was fast but even. It was a much-needed change for us winemakers and grape growers from the more challenging harvests these most recent years. Even though all the grapes are now off the vines the work continues in the cellar. The production team and I are still busy – we are working diligently in the cellar. Currently, we are racking the wines (known as the process of separating the wines from the solids) and filling barrels. This has taken up much of our time these past few weeks. Once in barrel it’s critical that we monitor the health and status of the wines. We are sampling every two weeks to taste and run laboratory analysis to ensure our young wines are on the right trajectory to showcase the wonderful quality of the 2021 vintage.
A densitometer measuring Brix (sugar) levels in the wine
It seems appropriate that a great vintage be capped off in a dramatic fashion. For Sonoma County it came in the form of an “atmospheric river”! As I write this the massive storm that quenched the parched land scape of Northern California is moving out of the region and heading east to cover the Sierras in some much-needed snow. Over the course of 48-hours, areas around Sonoma County received as much as 10 inches of rain! In fact, on the 24th we received 7.83 inches of rain which broke the daily record of rainfall which was 5.66 inches set in 2019 by 2.17 inches! In higher spots around the county the winds gusts reached up to 70 miles per hour. All around the area we had trees toppling down, localized flooding and widespread power outages. Considering last year was the driest year on record and most of California is in a severe draught, the importance of this storm cannot be understated enough. The storm went a long way in refilling reservoirs and recharging the snowpack in the Sierras which is relied upon in the summer months for water runoff. I am hoping that this is a preview for what is to come for the rainy season this year. The agriculture industry relies on this water to sustain it.
View of the Vineyard as the rainstorm rolls through
The work continues in the vineyard as well. We need to ensure the vines are recharged and set up for success for the next growing season. Earlier this year we took samples of tissue from the vines and tested for nutrition status. This tells us what we need to add to the soil this time of year to amend any potential deficiencies. Good news is our vineyard has a balanced mix of nutrients available in the soil, so we are supplementing just to recharge after a normal growing season. To recharge the soil, we take a multi-pronged approach. We have added a targeted blend liquid fertilizer through the drip irrigation system. This ensures that the needed nutrients penetrate deep into the soil to the lower rooting zones. We also plant a cover crop which contributes to better soil structure, increases organic content with nutrients and greatly improves the water-holding capacity of the soil.
Seed laid down via tractor for vineyard cover crop
This is vastly important as it leads to less irrigation use, thus more sustainable. The last technique we employ is spreading compost. Compost is a great way to add a wide range of macro and micronutrients. Compost can be considered a complete fertilizer, adding all the needed nutritional components. By actively managing our vines this time of year we’ll be in a great place come next spring!
On behalf of the entire team here at Ron Rubin Winery, we wish you all continued good health!