As harvest comes to a close, Winemaker Jill Russell gives us an update on the 2018 vintage and making wine at Cambria.
You might have heard it said that winemaking, like life, is a business of patience and timing. Sure, there’s lots of farming and the physical tasks of making wine, as well as plenty of strategy to decide upon. But when you make wine like we do, letting the fruit tell our story, with full focus on each varietal’s inherent characteristics and the natural expression of every individual block of our vineyards, it all begins with being patient and knowing the right time to pick.
This year we celebrated our 30th harvest at Cambria. And each one has been unique. We’re so grateful to have a vineyard team that is not only talented and highly skilled, but who have also been with us for many years and have honed their craft in these vineyards. They’re like vine whisperers, able to discern that perfect moment to pick specific blocks. And since this is my second harvest at Cambria, their insight is invaluable. It’s no small thing. Great fruit picked at the wrong time cannot make great wine.
This year moderate weather influenced the timing of harvest, which meant we were able to start out at a nice, slow pace. Pinot Noir is always the first to come in, and this year the fruit for Rosé, Barbara’s Signature Collection, and our Clone 4 were the first picked. Our old vine sections, like the Pommard Clone 4, have to be picked entirely by hand. Here’s the math on how that works:
- 8 persons on a crew
- Each person picks about 250 pounds an hour (which is over 12,000 clusters)
- Total crew picks 1 ton an hour
- 6 hour shifts means six tons a day
As for the patience part, that comes next. Fermentation is another aspect of the process that moves at its own pace. But knowing the fruit was picked at perfect ripeness with the necessary levels of sugar and flavor means the 2018 vintage has gotten off to a great start.
With the holidays around the corner, we want to wish you a joyous season full of meaningful time spent with those you care about. May your season be one of great food, wine, and friends.
Jill DelaRiva Russell, Winemaker