Welcome to the middle of summer, when the vineyard is beginning to strongly hint that harvest isn’t all that far off.  Our early, warm, and mostly dry spring really gave the growing season a jump start.  The lilac hues of veraison are tinting our Merlot, verifying our suspicion – harvest will indeed be early this year.  The good news is that “early” means reduced risk of grapes soaking in rains that often appear mid-fall.  It also means the wines will likely make it through their barrel fermentation before the chill of fall slows progress way down.  Both are excellent reasons to look forward to August as the start of our busiest season.

Meanwhile, Anthony and Rafael are in the home stretch of getting the final red blends into tank from barrels.  The fermenting tank that has been sporting a thick jacket of ice for the last several weeks lost it with a deafening crash at lunchtime today.  The tank room was a winter wonderland all afternoon as melt dropped the temperatures and broken ice shards slid towards the drain.  The chardonnay is successfully cold stabilized and ready to bottle once the temperature comes back up.

Those of you that missed the 20th Anniversary of the Bell Clone 6 missed a special evening indeed.  Cocoa rubbed venison tenderloin, accompanied by terrine of red quinoa, leeks and chestnuts and butter braised red and yellow baby beets, were lovely echoes of the notes in the twenty wines tasted.  Conversation ranged from the evolution of barrels used for aging to vineyard location impact on the wine.  The easiest conclusion reached by everyone was that the wines made from 1991 to 2001 were profoundly different from the wines made from 2002 to 2010.  While many sources contributed to that difference, our consensus was that the resulting wines made a jump up in quality and appeal.  Mark your calendars now; we’ll be doing this again in ten years.  Research does have its rewards.