Our first, drenching October storm is behind us, leaving one and a half inches of rain in Napa, twice as much in St. Helena. We’ve wrapped up bringing in the fruit, and now all the action is inside the winery. Over the last five years, we’ve gradually added new vineyards located throughout the valley. Our ability to now blend fruit from the mountains of Atlas Peak and Mt. Veeder, with fruit from the valley floor of St. Helena, and hills of Coombsville, has significantly broadened Anthony’s palette for wine creation. The wide variety of vineyards also means a wide variety of picking dates for many small lots. Managing that stream of fruit, and all the data it creates, from harvest to bottle is an enormous job, and thank goodness for computers. We could never keep track of the separate wine lots without them.
The very tiny lab, which doubles as Anthony’s office, is also where the juice analyses are done daily. We track the progress of the wines as they move from pure, sweet juice to fermented wine, then through the second fermentation, changing the acid from malic (sharp edged) to lactic (smooth and round). Once through that second fermentation, our work is almost done. The wines will then start their evolution in barrel; it will be several months before we start tasting the progress of the 2016 vintage.
In the meantime, there will be the end of year holidays, when many bottles of wine will be part of the ongoing celebrations. These three months, October-November-December, are known as OND in the wine business, and more than half of the year’s wine sales will be made then. It’s a crazy busy time of year for all the distributors too, coinciding nicely with harvest for us. Before you know it, the end of January will be here and we’ll have all caught our breath, finally.