Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October Tough-ness

So, we live here on the right side of this country, and we grow grapes here.  We've been doing it unsuccessfully for a few centuries, but recently we've started to get it right.  One of our chief concerns has always been the onslaught of hurricanes and tropical storms near harvest time.  And this year is no different.

The timing of these past few systems (Nicole, etc.) has been pretty good.  We have most of our early and mid-season varieties in, and the late season varieties are still hanging tough out there.  Our beautiful season is still in the works, and it's still looking good.  It's this toughness that make it all work for us.

Our late varieties--primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc--originate from a maritime climate (Bordeaux).  They are red varieties that have fairly tough skins, leading to the higher proportion of tannins in the resulting wine.  This toughness leads to a very good resistance to a lot of the rots that plagued East coast grapegrowers for years.  It also comes into play with end-of-season rains.

There's a harvest theory that you should wait at least three days after each rain to let the water move out of the vines.  There are competing theories as to whether the rain water moves into the berries through the roots or through the skins of the grapes.  Some recent research at, I believe, Washington State shows that even if you pressurized grapevine roots with water and he water dripped out of the leaves but didn't enter the grapes themselves.

So, if you follow that line of thinking and think about our tough varieties, you'll realize how we don't worry as much as we used to about rain at harvest.  Sure, it messes things up a bit.  But for the tough-stuff we like to grow, we can laugh it off.  All the way to the cellar.

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