January 2, 2014 |
Best Lodi Wine Country photos of 2013 (part 2)
Lodi’s future, as it has been since the 1850s, lies in the next generation — like Chiara Colarossi, here checking out the 2013 Zinfandel harvest in Bob and Alison Colarossi’s Stellina estate
Welcome to 2014!
The second half of 2013 was dominated, of course, by the Lodi Wine Country harvest. Vintage 2013 was among the earliest on record: white wine and sparkling wine grapes — such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir — were being picked by the end of the first week of August, at least two weeks sooner than usual. More exotic white wine grapes — such as Albariño, Verdelho and Kerner (a German crossing of Riesling x Trollinger) — came in soon after. A warm summer had a lot to do with the hastened harvest; but mostly, it was because the spring bud break and flowering occurred at least two weeks earlier than usual.
Meaning: grapes had just as much “hang time” as usual to develop aromas, flavors, and optimal sugar/acid balance; only, under more benign weather conditions (as opposed to the wet, cold conditions that often mar late October harvests). As a result, we expect lots of bright, zesty, perky wines to come out of 2013 — an ideal thing, since this is exactly what more and more consumers (not to mention critics and connoisseurs) are looking for.
At the same time, vintage 2013 had its own vagaries (as do all vintages): Zinfandel for red wine was picked in perfect balance in some vineyards as early as the end of August, instead of the usual mid-to-late September. At the same time, other growers found themselves picking Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon — grapes that normally take the longest to ripen (usually picked in October) — before their Zinfandel (especially zin plantings affected by premature red leafing, which took as long as the second week of October to fully ripen).
But in the end, most of 2013 came in with fewer of the usual issues, such as bunch rot or raisining, or else nothing that couldn’t be easily dropped in the vineyard or sorted out in the winery (read about the drama of the 2013 harvest in a previous post, 2013 Zinfandel harvest nearing end). Hence, the brighter, balanced qualities of 2013s. Petite Sirah lovers — a legion growing by the day — will be especially pleased by Lodi’s 2013s: these grapes came in fairly early, completely clean, and bursting with the blueberry/spiced sensations that turn Petite Sirah lovers on.
That said, our favorite photographic memories of 2013′s rousing finish:
End of August: Stellina Zinfandel harvest (Lodi’s west side)
Two of Round Valley Ranches’ meticulous all-women picking crew in Stellina estate
End-of-August early harvest dinner at Harney Lane estate
End-of August: sunset over Harney Lane’s estate vineyard
August 19: each year Lodi’s oldest growth — Bechthold Vineyard, planted 1886 completely to Cinsaut grapes – is among the first red wine plantings to be picked; here, by Turley’s Tegan Passalacqua (left) and Phillips Farms vineyard manager Emiliano Castanon
Phillips Farms crew member with Bechthold Vineyard Cinsaut
Bechthold Vineyard Cinsaut glowing in mid-August dawn
Close-up of Bechthold Cinsaut, dusted in diatomaceous earth (utilized heavily by Phillips Farms to combat 2013′s influx of mites and occasional heat spikes)
August 29 in Bechthold Vineyard: Onesta Wines owner/winemaker Jillian Johnson waits a little longer to pick at slightly higher sugars, aiming for a slightly fuller bodied (yet still plenty soft and sumptuous) style of Cinsaut
The dimunitive Jillian Johnson’s “harvest boots”
3 PM, August 29 in Bechthold Vineyard: despite their heroic stamina, 100-degree temperatures and over 9 hours of heavy lifting are beginning to take a toll on Phillips Farms pickers
First week of September: punchdown of native yeast fermented Bechthold Vineyard Cinsaut at McCay Cellars
September 10: morning sun peeking through 55-year old Zinfandel in Maley’s Wegat Vineyard, just before being picked
Early September: Todd Maley sorting through Zinfandel in his family’s Wegat Vineyard — planted in 1958, and the ultra-premium source of Maley Brothers, Macchia’s “Voluptuous,” Akin, and much of m2′s “Artist” bottlings
Maley Brothers’ Wegat Vineyard Zinfandel coming in at the crusher
September 13: m2′s Layne Montgomery reading sugar of just-picked Soucie Vineyard Zinfandel
Mid-September: Alvarehao — a Portuguese variety that produces both table reds and fortified sweet reds — in Silvaspoons Vineyards; still about three weeks to go before harvest
September 14: visiting journalist Elaine Brown (Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews) shouting out to the wine world via social media under Torrontes vines, while conversing with Silvaspoons Vineyards owner/grower Ron Silva
Mid-September: Zinfandel harvest at Lizzy James Vineyard (classic mixed age vineyard, mostly dating back to 1904), the crown jewel of Harney Lane's east side/Mokelumne River AVA plantings
Heavenly light of breaking morning over Lizzy James Zinfandel picker
Mid-September: Harney Lane's Kyle Lerner, contemplating macro-bins of fermenting Zinfandel
Mid-September red leaf: typical of 2013, this Silvaspoons Tannat developed earlier than usual leaf coloring
Mid-September: Jessie's Grove owner/grower/winemaker Greg Burns with two of the new-generation winemakers on his winemaking team
Mid-September musical Syrah: like notes on a bar, perfect clusters of Syrah growing on open-canopy trellis in Abba Vineyard
Rachel Brown (daughter of Elaine "Hawk Wakawaka" Brown) in Abba Vineyard
End of September: west side Zinfandel wrapped in fiery leaves and alien-like red tendrils
October 5: Macchia owner/winemaker Tim Holdener sampling visitors on just-fermented Zinfandel
First week of October: Zinfandel in Kirschenmann Vineyard on Lodi's east side, still a few days away from reaching optimal ripeness (without excessive sugar)
October 7: Bokisch Ranches crew harvesting Zinfandel from 97-year old Kirschenmann Vineyard
Early October: meager crop on this classic, ancient, wizened (planted 1920s) Alicante Bouschet in Borra Vineyards' Church Block, which will be field crushed with Barbera, Petite Sirah and Carignan to produce Borra's acclaimed "Heritage Red"
Alicante Bouschet is a rare "teinturier," a black skinned grape with red rather than clear colored pulp
Mid-October: Vinedos Aurora's Gerardo Espinosa harvesting his family's estate grown Petite Sirah
Early December gathering of some of Lodi's top Zinfandel specialists: Layne Montgomery (m2), Stuart Spencer (St. Amant), Bruce Fry (Mohr-Fry Ranches), Joe Maley (Maley Vineyards), Jerry Fry (Mohr-Fry Ranches), Mike McCay (McCay Cellars), Tim Holdener (Macchia), Ryan Sherman (Fields Family), and Chad Joseph (Maley Brothers and Harney Lane)
Early December: "I-heart-Lodi" leaves clinging to life as mornings dip into the 20s
Freeze-dried Zinfandel leaf during a week of early December frost
Mid-December pruning of nearly naked Zinfandel on Lodi's west side
One last glimpse of 2013: "this ol' truck" and palms in Harney Lane's home vineyard