2014 Harvest Report

The 2014 Harvest has almost come to a close for Mastro Scheidt Cellars. A few loose ends to tie off and we'll have barreled down another season. A wide variety of grapes picked again this season, with Cabernet Sauvignon the leading varietal by tonnage picked.

Many people ask us, "Do you pick your own grapes?"

The answer is...ABSOLUTELY!

Our proprietor and winemaker, David Scheidt personally hauled and picked over 3 tons this year from 3 different vineyards sites, including our 7th Vine Cabernet Sauvignon. He was helped in the vineyard on numerous occasions by his father T.L. and his brother John. We even recruited one of our close friends, Jason, to assist in the vineyard this season. Thanks to everyone who helped with harvest this year.

A series of pictures detailing the process of the 2014 Harvest are included in the Gallery: 2014 Harvest

Vineyard Walks, Talks and Thoughts

In anticipation of the 2013 harvest, I walked several vineyards and sampled plenty of fruit this week in Dry Creek Valley. Characterizing the last couple vintages and prognosticating about the current one, reads something like this:

2011 was under-ripe (for some, not us) and already being discounted by some winemakers and critics (again, not us)

2012 was near perfect in every way. Which is good for everyone.

2013 is early…maybe. Yields are lower than 2012, at least from my samples. Mother Nature is still deciding if She wants to keep the weather consistent or throw either a heat wave or rain storm our way, but Dry Creek Cabernet is probably 3+ weeks away...maybe.

I think 2013 is exposing the mettle of the full time farmer, their experience and how little credit the farmers' receive for the work we as winemakers and wine company owners take credit for.

When was the soil disked? How was the vineyard pruned? Is the vineyard dry-farmed? How is the vineyard fertilized? What type of canopy management system is employed? Leaf thinning? Fruit thinning? Water regime? How well do the vineyard managers, winemakers and owners communicate with each other?

Lencioni Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley

I think the aforementioned questions are making a bigger difference in 2013 than last year.

I’ve tasted a lot of nearly-ripe fruit in 2013. I’ve tasted a lot of green fruit in 2013. I’ve even seen raisin in 2013. I’ve never seen raisin this early in Dry Creek Valley. I can’t do anything with raisins.

We generally will pick Cabernet the first week of October in a normal growing season....but it could be the last week of September in 2013 and it's VERY site specific.

Translation: Know your farmer, because he knows his farm better than you.

What’s the point of all of this? There are a lot of things happening behind the scenes in the vineyard this year (and every year) and the tension is palpable.

SO next time you raise your glass, give a toast to the wine grape farmers and vineyard managers. They’re under a lot of pressure right now.

Early Season Review of Rafanelli and Gipson Ranch

I spent a little time up at Rafanelli Vineyard and Gipson Ranch recently, reviewing each of the properties and the super-early prognostication on the 2013 grape harvest quality. 

The early predictions look very good. If this heat keeps up, it could be an early season. Not a lot of rain and warm days have accelerated growth in 2013. 

I've been looking to harvest Sauvignon Blanc and Petite Sirah in 2013 to widen my experience as a winemaker and broaden the audience of wine drinkers beyond Cabernet Sauvignon. I've always like Petite for its deep color and longevity. Naturally, I'm working my current vineyard partners and my bias for hillside fruit locations in Sonoma County.

We've got a long way to go until harvest begins, but the early opinion polls show promise.