Outguessing grape production is like predicting the stock market. We were fretting about the 2006 Pinot vintage after fruit set since the number of clusters per vine was lower than in 2005 which had resulted in our lowest yield in over a decade. A few weeks later we had an uncomfortable hunch that we had overlooked something so we decided to count the number of berries per cluster. Although we had fewer clusters than in 2005, we discovered the clusters had more than twice the number of berries. Our crop estimates now indicated we had too much, not too little, so Navarro's crew spent the next several weeks thinning. Once the berries had sized we realized that the clusters had none of the typical tiny shot-berries so the average berry size, and therefore the cluster weights, were greater than expected. The workers went out a second time to remove even more crop. A few weeks after this second thinning the grapes started coloring. When about half the clusters are purple it's easy to spot individual vines that are ripening too slowly since they have more green fruit. Navarro's valiant thinning crew ventured into the field a third time to remove unripe clusters and balance each vine.
Sarah counted berries in 2004 and 2005 for her master's thesis so we had a base line for the size of the clusters in 2006 but no one was very enthusiastic about the tedious work. Gabriel plays soccer on the Anderson Valley High School team which is undoubtedly more exciting than counting grapes.
Six weeks later we began harvest and since we had picked over each vine three times during the summer it was a relief to finally harvest. A balanced vine makes for a balanced wine. Lots of work went into this dirt cheap wine which will leave you bullish on Pinot. Gold Medal winner.
Replanting a vineyard involves more than digging holes. We start by plucking out the old vines . After adding soil amendments, the vineyard is deep cultivated to loosen compacted soil then new drain tile and culverts are installed. We replace all the irrigation, frost protection and trellising systems before we can finally plant. This wine is a blend of 7 different Pinot clones from 17 lots, some of them from our latest plantings.