I'd like to recognize Tacia Miller in advance for asking questions that result in many of the blog entries on winemaking and viticulture. Without her thirst for knowledge, I'd not recognize the opportunity to share interesting information with you.
I'm no dinosaur of the wine world so take the following statement with a grain of salt: this has been the coolest summer ever for me and the current weather forecast makes this the most challenging harvest planning I have ever experienced. Surely someone has a worse story than I, but here's what I see...
For a little context, in 2005 we picked the Pinot Noir on 9/28 and the Muscat on 10/1. With good weather targeting ideal ripeness, I'll be picking the 2007 Muscat on 10/3 (2 days late), the first block of Pinot on 10/5 (1 week late), and the second block on 10/11 (2 weeks late). The latest forecast means those dates are optimistic (while I'm writing it just started to rain). We're getting to a point where ripening potential is less each day, Botrytis is a threat, birds want more than their share, and excess water can burst berries which attract yellow jackets.
Neil and I have discussed picking his block - this is his first harvest, a block 200 yards uphill my own, beautifully managed. His grapes are somewhat ahead this year. Somehow I find that possibility frustrating because it is motivated by the weather forecast and introduces the possibility that we would sacrifice quality at the expense of quantity. So far, we've managed to show courage and picked nothing. [Note to readers, I chickened-out in 2004 and picked early because of the weather forecast and then weather improved.]
Since it costs me a lot of money to make wine, not to mention bottles and labels, I'm going to hold out. It would be better for me to lose crop than make mediocre wine. I'm toying with some alternative wine styles that I'll keep under wraps for now, and hopefully never try them.
I think the Muscat will be fine. For some reason the Muscat (and the Tempranillo) seem to continue ripening in cool weather whereas the Pinot is waiting for warmth. So while the weather this year is bad, Tempranillo and Muscat still prove no worse than Pinot Noir under my viticulture program. I will continue with the expansion of Tempranillo in the spring.
Doing the "SUN DANCE". -Jon-