Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
Cellar Master Luis Contreras, Assistant Winemaker Jim Duane and Winemaker Nicki Pruss, taste Chardonnay grapes before they are pressed.
A Tale of Two Harvests: Harvest Report 2007
If you ask Winemaker Nicki Pruss or Vineyard Manager Kirk Grace about the 2007 Napa Valley harvest, they might ask you “which one?” That’s because they both see 2007 as having two very distinct phases: before and after the intense heat spike of late August - early September. Kirk calls it the “two full moons harvest,” because both phases were clustered around full moons that occurred in late August and late September.
Although there was lower than usual rainfall throughout the season, a relatively cool summer made irrigation unnecessary. Vines were healthy and balanced, producing smaller berries with good color, flavor concentration and acid structure. Overall tonnage is down across all varietals, although not dramatically.
For Kirk, the two phases – and the respite in between – were a blessing. “For Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, we usually start to pick between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m. so that the grapes come into the winery cool and the acid stays bright, so it was nice to get a break before the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot came in,” he says. Kirk is especially proud of his vineyard crew, some of whom have been with Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars for over 15 years. “These guys are highly skilled – some of the best in the Napa Valley.”
For Nicki, the “civilized” pace of this year’s harvest was briefly interrupted when we lost power for nearly five hours, bringing crush to a halt. Luckily, we had no presses or other machinery in the middle of critical tasks when the power went out! Thanks to a few generators we were soon back online.
This year, Nicki’s harvest team included a cellar intern from Australia and two grape samplers, just out of college, who logged many miles among the vineyard rows collecting grape samples that they brought to the winery for sugar and acid analysis. This data helps Nicki monitor grape maturity on a block by block basis. But it’s not until she actually tastes the fruit out in the vineyard that picking decisions are made.
With wines still fermenting it’s too early to make predictions about the 2007 vintage. But Nicki, who celebrated her 10th harvest with Stag's Leap Wine Cellars this year, is especially pleased with the intensity of color and depth of flavors in these young wines.
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