Harvest Highlights

The 2010 harvest season took us on quite a ride! As harvest approached, I spent a huge part of my week out tromping through the Kendall-Jackson vineyards. I love this part of my job — but my Jeep didn’t! I put nearly 6,000 miles on it in September and October visiting our vineyard sites all over wine country — driving through Napa, Sonoma County, Mendocino and Carneros to see first hand what was happening out in the fields.

One unusual thing we saw out in the vineyards this year was wide swaths of acreage ripening all at once. The fruit transformed from underripe flavors into soft, fleshy, fresh fruit characteristics much quicker than usual … which meant we needed to get lots of grapes into the winery ASAP. Our vineyard crews were amazing as they tackled large blocks to get the fruit off the vines as quickly as possible.  Overall, the flavors we saw as the grapes reached the winery were terrific; there was almost a total absence of “green” character.

One vineyard that stands out in my mind was Knights Cross in Knights Valley. Up on a ridge in the foothills of Mount St. Helena, these lots are the backbone of the Highland Estates Trace Ridge wines and the Jackson Hills Cabernet blend, and are a significant component in the Grand Reserve Cabernet as well. The Cab from this vineyard showed an amazing depth of flavor that we are really excited about.

Compared to the average, the harvest was really late this year, giving me some extra time to spend with family and friends in September. I posted some shots of sailing in the San Francisco Bay in later September — something that’s almost unheard of for a winemaker during crush!