Unlike 2008, Navarro had only a moderate amount of spring frost in '09 so by June, when we usually begin to irrigate, the ponds were almost full. The year earlier we had been forced to learn some valuable lessons in irrigation management so we figured we would continue with the minimized watering regime in 2009. On September 15, after a bout of cold weather, it began to warm up, with each afternoon getting progressively hotter. Being close to the ocean, the diurnal change in temperature was frequently over 50°F; for example, it would be 90's or even 100's in the afternoon and in the 40's at night. With harvest a week away we decided that the only way we could pick cold fruit was to harvest at night. We quickly reorganized Navarro's harvest regime. We rented portable stadium lights and provided halogen lights on headbands for each member of the vineyard crew so we could harvest in the chill of the night. Then on September 30, the temperatures dropped and for three nights we had to frost protect our lower vineyards, including our best field of Riesling, while simultaneously harvesting from the upper vineyards in a star filled sky. Thank heavens we had water to spare.
Navarro's night harvest crew takes a coffee and pastry break at daybreak. They will continue harvesting for another two or three hours, stopping when the fruit begins to warm. Similar in style to German wines, this bottling has relatively low alcohol with high acidity and a trocken finish.
Early morning harvest. Our viticulture practice is to grow clusters under a canopy of leaves so the fruit is protected from the direct sun. To speed up picking, we normally deleaf around the cluster the afternoon before we harvest but exposing the fruit on a hot afternoon can reduce quality. In 2009 we decided to deleaf directly ahead of the pickers.
Whiffs of star jasmine and clover honey lead to taut flavors of lime and Pippin apple developed during the warm October Indian summer; the cold nights contribute a bracing acidity and low alcohol that keeps this wine refreshing. Try it on a warm summer day or a starry night.
At the end of the day, we get inside our wine presses to clean them. The winemaker positions the press with the sliding doors facing downward for easy access. When in use, the doors are flipped upward and closed after being filled with destemmed grapes. The blue plastic liner is actually an inflatable balloon which gently pushes the grapes against the perforated stainless steel drum extracting the juice with minimal maceration.