Guest Blog from Owner, Nadia Zilkha: Harvest 2014

One of the highlights on my trips to the West Coast is experiencing both the Laetitia and Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyards. As they’re 90 miles apart, one on the coast by San Luis Obispo and the other at 3,000 ft altitude in the Eastern Sierras of Santa Barbara County, the contrast in terroir is enormous. Because of this, we’re able to produce both Burgundian and Bordeaux varietals.

IMG_6076An unusual dense fog, more typical of June gloom, was hovering over Laetitia till around 11AM each day this past month. This fog has slowed down the ripening of the grapes, consequently delaying our picking. We love the morning fog as it helps the grapes develop perfect balance but now, in the middle of harvest, the fog prevented the development of the critically necessary level of sugars. To maintain the quality of our finished product, we had to suppress the urge to get the harvesting done and wait patiently for the grapes to mature properly.  And that’s what we did. So harvest at Laetitia was stalled for a couple of days and we missed seeing the bright lights of night harvest during our stay.

Our visit to Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard started around 1PM.  An intense dry heat hit us immediately and we drank lots of water to hydrate. Harvest at SBHV always starts a little later than at Laetitia, (our sparkling wine grapes get picked at a lower sugars). Once we begin at SBHV, we do not stop picking as everything seems to ripen in coherent order. Lino thinks that we’ll be finished by the first week of October this year, a record for us.

The flatness that characterizes this vineyard made it easy for us to drive around and taste different blocks of Syrah and Cabernet grapes. New Barnwood 052I admired the precision with which Eric and Lino picked different bunches off the vine and tasted each side of them to check whether they were ready to be picked.

Impatient as we sometimes are to get harvest over and done with, the important decision about the best time to pick is key to our producing the quality of wines that we are known for.  We wait all year for this and although we are tempted to rush through harvest, our methodical, direct approach pays off in the end.

This is who we are, what our life is about and this is what you’ll taste in our bottles. Santé.

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