As of yesterday, Wednesday, November 9th, Harvest 2011 ended for Ridge Vineyards. With the last grape in off Monte Bello, we can now close the book on one of the more unusual and challenging growing seasons in recent history. That said, at least certainly in our experience, unusual and challenging often translates to extraordinary, concentrated, and delicious. That very much looks to be the case for the 2011 vintage. Here is winemaker Eric Baugher, with some recent perspective on #Harvest2011, penned just prior to the final round of picking on Monte Bello:
The vintage is coming along nicely, just about finished and only have the few parcels at the upper vineyard remaining to harvest this week. We rushed to pick ahead of last Thursday’s storm, and fortunately pulled in a large amount of fruit ahead of the small amount of rainfall that hit. Wind and plenty of sunshine will dry the remaining grapes for harvest to finish this Wednesday. Typically, the harvest at Monte Bello takes five or more weeks from start to finish, but this year we will have completed it in less than two weeks. Sampling grapes early on, we saw less separation of ripeness between lower, middle, and upper vineyards and within the Bordeaux varietals. We knew that the moment the grapes achieved full ripeness, they’d all be ready to harvest at the same time. Our Monte Bello vineyard team was supplemented with additional crew from our Sonoma vineyards in order to pick double the amount of fruit each day. In the winery, the lots have been fermenting quite well, extracting very deep color and full bodies. Tannin extraction is, as usual, something we watch closely and taste carefully to decide when to press. So far, we are fermenting out to about eight days, and giving the tanks slightly more aerated pump-over time so that a rich tannin structure can develop. A vintage wrought with challenging weather, has actually yielded some amazing quality, especially once the warm weather returned mid-October and intensified flavors. The stress on the vines was unlike any other year, but they made it through and this stress has translated into wines with extraordinary color, flavor, and aging potential.
And with that, we say fare thee well Harvest 2011, it’s been a fascinating season!
To see a quick video of our seemingly ever-multiplying sorting tables in action as the final berries enter the winery, please click below …
video footage shot by Amy Monroe