Peter Cargasacchi is one of the most passionate growers I know. Winemakers from all over clamor for fruit from his vineyards. The wines produced from his fruit-from the likes of producers like Siduri and Testarossa-are seminal!
As harvest 2004 started to wind down and Peter had a chance to talk, he summarized harvest in the prose that follows:
“Everything was perfect. And then at the beginning of the second week in September, we got hit by aspike of hot weather, which accelerated the ripening.
“It caused a lot of vineyards to ripen simultaneously. One of the results: some of the grapes came in with elevated sugar levels.
“As harvest approached, we had great, ripe flavors which were not adjusted during the fermentation that may have higher alcohols than normal.
“Some of the vineyards which anticipated the heat spike and had applied water to the vineyards prior to the warmer conditions had excellent vintages and rich, concentrated wines.”
According to what Peter said, it sounds like some vineyards didn’t water when they should have. As a result, they had to practice what he calls “post harvest irrigation.
I also talked to Kathy Joseph of Fiddlehead Cellars and Fiddlestix Vineyards. She was on her cell phone driving up to Davis to see her husband. When I asked her about the harvest, there was a pause, and then in a gleeful voice she said, “We’re excited!” And she added:
“This was a difficult harvest for small wineries because (especially for pinot noir producers) all the grapes ripened at the same time.
“There’s the factor of space consideration. Most wineries are organized so as to turn the fermentation vats several times throughout the season. We were faced with a situation where we had all the fruit in house simultaneously. So for experienced and seasoned winemakers like myself, we enjoyed the challenge. For the new kids on the block, it may have been a frustrating ordeal.
“I love the balance of the fruit from my vineyard, Fiddlestix. We got the same wonderful concentration of flavors and the same dark colored juice typical of the Santa Rita Hills in prior years.
“So perhaps what sets this vintage apart from others-we have more free time to do marketing in October.”
Kathy told me, “The handful of great winemakers that were able to buy fruit from Fiddlestix have expressed to me how excited they are about the high quality expressed this year.”
“In their own words” from two quintessential growers, Peter Cargasacchi and Kathy Joseph.
Be sure to vote Tuesday.
Times wine columnist, Bob Senn, lives in the Los Alamos Valley and owns the Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium.
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