Winemaker Matt went on a two-county tour of vineyards last week to check on the grapes. He tasted through an assortment of red varieties, like Syrah, Malbec and Merlot, tasting the grapes right off of the vine. He checked for acidity and sugar levels in addition to visually checking the clusters for signs of mold or bees. Wasps and bees can cause significant damage to the grapes, including the threat of exposing them to spoilage bacteria that they may carry from cluster to cluster.
The differences between the vineyard blocks around Sonoma County is astounding. The micro climates of these areas affect the ripening process for the grapes so much so that at a higher elevation vineyard, some Chardonnay hasn’t even been picked, while most Chardonnay in the county already has been!
Facts about Syrah
Winemaker Matt is able to tell this by tasting the grapes but also by looking at how they’re ripening. Syrah grapes will start to get “pruny,” like your fingers in the pool for too long, when they’re just about ready to be picked. If the grapes are still shiny and perfectly round, they have a little time left. Syrah in the Bennett Valley area of Sonoma has yet to be picked and probably has another two to three weeks on the vine. On the other side of the mountain, Syrah in the Sonoma Valley is ready to be picked and will probably be harvested on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.
Matt took a taste through multiple wines that are fermenting as we speak. By tasting the wines straight from the tank, he’s able to evaluate whether the wine is coming along the way he expected it to. He can also determine how much longer the wine needs to ferment in the tank and when he will be able to create his masterful blends.
For the next two to three weeks, Matt will be out in the vineyards, keeping an eye on the progression, deciding when to pick certain blocks depending on the brix (sugar levels.) The weather in Sonoma County is supposed to be warmer this weekend, which will help ripen the last of the fruit on the vines and put Kendall-Jackson grapes on the path to becoming your next delicious bottle of wine.