Saturday, November 1, 2014

Harvest 2015

   We harvested this year on September 14th. After the hottest July on record, the weather cooled off somewhat in August. The first two weeks of September were cool and we had some rain. For the second year in a row, we had enough rain in June, August and September that I didn't have to irrigate at all. The vines set a huge primary and secondary crop. I went through the vineyards and dropped at least 1500 pounds of second crop on the ground. I was concerned that, if the cool weather continued, we would have trouble ripening the primary crop. Also, in the past, I had trouble getting the pickers to leave the second crop.
   Most of the grape pickers here work for farmers rather than winemakers so, if it looks like a grape, it goes in the trailer. This year was different. The Tost family brought some pickers who understood the concept. They left whatever second crop I missed. The result was that the grape chemistry was right on the money (as follows):
Alcohol 13.9%
pH 3.65
t.a. .7g/100ml
   I couldn't be happier! As you can see, the fruit was beautiful. The harvest went smoothly and we were finished by 2:00 pm. I am embarrassed to say I only picked about three hours. Since most of the fruit hangs less than eighteen inches from the ground, I'm a little too tall for this kind of work. We were assisted by four very nice Moroccan gentlemen and the Tosts (Rosa Maria, Josep and Marc) matched them cluster for cluster. In my 33 years of grape harvesting, I've never seen anything like it.
   We ended up with 6875 kilos (7.5 American tons) which was 50% more than last year. Ramon Bargalló, from whom I bought the vineyards, said he never got more than 6000 kilos so it was an all-time record. It was more fruit than would fit in my 5000 liter tank. Renè Barbier generously allowed me to use three of his one ton fermenters so we were able to get everything in the barn.
   The fermentations went well (quick and clean) and the vintage is now put to bed. I would like to thank the Tost Family for making this harvest so bountiful and pleasant. I would also like to thank "Los Tres Amigos de La Figuera":
And, of course, thanks to all of you!!!
¡Gracias de Nuevo y tu amigo!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Celler D. Russell Smith-Harvest 2014

Celler D. Russell Smith-Harvest 2014

We harvested our estate grapes on September 6 and everything went as planned. I think we were the first to pick carinyena in Montsant. Because of the old vines and the orientation of the vineyard, we are a couple of weeks ahead of everyone else. I didn't irrigate this year since the vines never appeared to be water stressed. Carinyena tends to ripen a little unevenly so it's always a challenge to determine ripeness, especially when dealing with an old vineyard where there is a lot of variability from vine to vine. 
In addition to looking at the numbers, I watch for the ripeness of the seeds. This year I noticed the seeds were generally brown and we were getting some dehydration in about 10% of the berries. The last sample I took on Sept. 4 showed 25 Brix. We ended up with 24 Brix in the tank and good pH. 
The yield this year was 4750 kilos or 5.22 American tons off the five acres. This is the best we've done so far and I'm very pleased with the quality. We took the fruit to La Figuera and it's now fermenting in two 3000 liter tanks. I'm pumping over once a day and the color is fabulous!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Celler D. Russell Smith-Vintage 2013

               Celler D. Russell Smith, Vintage 2013

This is my 31st harvest. It's a little hard to believe. We picked the garnatxa from the vineyard near Marça on Monday, September 16th. This is a sweet little one hectare vineyard planted on decomposed slate. It's the same one we picked last year and I was thrilled with the quality of the wine. This year looks just as good.
Because of the wet spring, harvest this year has been pushed back by about two weeks. As you may notice if you look at last years pictures, the vines have more vigor this year because of the rain.
We harvested Fincas Alta y Vieja yesterday. There was a little rain on Thursday and they were predicting more yesterday. It was mostly scattered showers on Thursday and we got just enough to settle the dust in El Molar. Pere brought a big crew (13) to start around noon and they finished Finca Alta in about an hour and a half.
Six people stayed after lunch to work on Finca Vieja since the winery couldn't start processing the fruit until 6:30. The work went well and we were about 90% done when a big thunderstorm appeared on the horizon and seemed to be headed right at us. As it drew closer, everyone was picking like crazy. Pere jumped in his truck and drove around the corner to talk to Arkady, the local bar owner. Arkady has a big house and barn next to the bar. He agreed to let us park the grapes in his barn.
Pere went back to get the grapes while I helped Arkady open the doors. Pere roared into the barn with his tractor and the grapes just as the blessed bottom fell out. It was what my grandfather used to call a "Texas Toad-Strangler". There was a lot of laughter and back-slapping in the bar while we drank beer and watched the storm pass.
It is about a 15 minute drive straight uphill to the winery. The guys were there and we processed the fruit with no trouble. The grapes looked really good. We ended up with 3440 kilos and the chemistry is excellent. I will go back tonight to start the pump-overs. This has been an interesting year and I'm very pleased to be done with harvest