2022 HARVEST – A FAST AND EXCITING VINTAGE!
This past month has been an exciting, fast paced harvest! We had a record-breaking heat wave over Labor Day that kicked harvest into hyperdrive, early September rains, and we even experienced a small earthquake on September 13th to add even more excitement to it all! This harvest has been the most compressed one that I’ve ever experienced. We brought in our first Pinot Noir grapes from our Estate Vineyard on August 30th (just two days ahead of last year) and our last Estate Chardonnay came in on September 23rd. From start to finish our entire harvest season was just twenty-five days long! As a comparison the 2021 Harvest started on September 1st and ended on October 13th and was a total of forty-three days which would be a more typical time frame for us.
Freshly Picked Estate Pinot Noir
The growing season started out as a cool one, we had a cool spring and summer going into harvest but then over Labor Day weekend we experienced some intense heat that continued into the following week. The hottest temperature we recorded at the winery was on September 7th and was 116.5F! This heat pushed up the brix or sugar levels in the grapes and in some cases made it important to harvest as quickly as possible. I was able to bring all the vineyards that needed to come in early, fortunately most vineyards withstood the heat just fine and allowed some more hang time for flavor development after the heat wave passed. As a matter of fact, because it was a cool start to the season the heat benefited some vineyards by giving them a push forward as they were slightly behind in their development. The county also received some much-needed rain on September 18th, 1.34 inches was measured at the winery! In a year with a normal harvest window, this would cause a lot of problems by creating mold issues with the grapes. Because the harvest window was so early, we were able to bring the last two Chardonnays right after the rain and so the rain didn’t have a chance to cause us any issues!
Most of the Chardonnays are still fermenting right now. I like to ferment Chardonnay at colder temperatures which helps retain aromantics. The first Chardonnay fermentations are now getting close to being “dry” or having no sugar left in the juice. All but two tanks of Pinot Noir are completely dry and pressed of the skins. The fresh wine is settling in tank and awaiting their journey to barrel. Over the course of the next two weeks, we will have all our barrels filled. The fresh wine will start the period of “élevage” which is a French term for the progression of wine between fermentation and bottling.
Despite the weather challenges the wine will be high quality this year. While the grape growing community has been established here in Sonoma County for many decades. The growers and winemakers worked closely together this year to make critical decisions at just the right time to ensure high quality fruit was delivered to the wineries. Most recently we had a very similar vintage in 2017 in which we had a heat wave over Labor Day. We collectively learned from it to know how to navigate the constant challenges mother nature throws our way. Tasting the juice and the young wines every day, I can’t help but to be excited about the prospects of how good the finished wines will be once they finally make it bottle!
Freshly pressed juice ready to be analyzed
The biggest take away for me this year is you must be ready to move fast. When you have a harvest as dynamic and as fast moving as the 2022 vintage; you must be able to make the calls based on “right now” information. With the major heat wave or the rain, these events can complete change the need to pick or not to pick. I’m proud of my team’s performance this past month. We navigated the changing dynamics of this exciting harvest quite well and we will produce outstanding wines because of it!
Ron Rubin’s Winemaking Team: William Thiersch, Assistant Winemaker, Ed Morris, Winemaker and Cooper, and Matthew Hunter, Cellar Master
On behalf of the entire team here at Ron Rubin Winery, we wish you all continued good health!