It started a full week earlier than usual because of the summer drought but we didn’t finish until the last week of October owing to record yields.
Every grape variety wanted to be harvested at almost the same time. When you pick by hand that can be a disastrous situation. Still we managed to get everything off in excellent shape, except for some sour rot-affected Riesling. Even so, the Riesling yield was pretty much in its normal range. I can’t imagine what the tonnage would have been without the sour rot loss. But the best news for that variety is that the Noble Rot was back too and our pickers did an amazing job of selecting those delightfully infected clusters. Our first Botrytis affected Riesling since 2012.
The largest yields were in the Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer followed by the Gamay. Vida will have fun taking different wine-making approaches for each varietal and we should have a large 2016 Roxey Rosé as well. The Chardonnay sugars have never been this high, the acids so perfect and the pick so clean. We were particularly delighted with the Applehouse vineyard that carried almost twice the fruit in impeccable condition than we have ever seen since its first 2002 vintage. As we passed the refractometer around the crush pad, looks of incredulity followed, when the readings of 23 and 24 brix for the first wagon load of Chard from the King Eddy Vineyard dripped from the press.
Our picking volunteers can usually pick most of the Gewurztraminer in a Saturday harvest brigade but it took us almost three more staff picking days to complete the harvest this year. The dusky rose colour of the grapes was exquisite providing one of the easiest sortings at the winery that we have ever seen. No botrytis but the sugars were high without it and the acids solid but not overwhelming.
Although the latest planting of Muscat in the Velo Vineyard is still not at full maturity, the addition of its grapes this year also made this our largest vintage of that seductive aromatic. All the watering of those younger grapes during the drought really paid off. We thought the weights might have been low as a result of the “grande secheresse” but there was lots of juice in all but a few highly stressed vines.
With the demand for PTO (power take off) red sparkling so high both in the store and at farmers’ markets we have decided to use all the St. Laurent harvest for a 2016 PTO rather than splitting it with the 3 Point Hitch, as in past years.
We ended up doing multiple picks of the Pinot and Gamay this year. In the case of the Gamay we were able to harvest both for the sparkling blends, with a lower brix selection, and for what should be an exceptional straight Gamay vintage already luxuriating in fine French oak barrels. While for the Pinot Noir, each pick focused on only the highest brix clusters. The first pick was in September about a week earlier than any of the previous 13 vintages. With the vines supporting lower numbers of clusters after that first pick, the sugars rose beautifully over the next couple of weeks in the remaining grapes.
We sold out of our Chenin from 2015 (bottled in early July) in the first week of October this year. Never saw anything like it before. It usually lasts until April or May of the following year. Finally, Ontario wine drinkers are discovering the charm of Chenin Blanc. So, with only one acre of Chenin and a similar sized vendanges this year, we can expect the 2016 to be equally short-lived in the tasting room. The quality is superb. I tell each serious prospective buyer of the property that it is the first grape planting expansion they should consider.
We may have to develop a reservation list for this Chenin vintage as we did for the first Darkling Sparkling our traditional method sparkling red. By the way, Darkling #2 can soon be sent off for its final riddling. Not now, though we are too consumed with tie down and plans for Wassail and Christmas deliveries.