The 2010 grape harvest officially begins this Tuesday September 7th as we plan to pick our Sauvignon Blanc grapes, which goes into our Rosé blend. To help celebrate crush, the team will be sporting matching gold tees with a fun tagline “21 and finally legal”, celebrating von Strassers 21st harvest! Crews (along with Amanda and Lindsay Faith) will begin at 7am, expecting to last an hour as it’s a very small amount to harvest, expecting about ½ to ¾ tons.
Last year, harvest began August 24th with both the Sauvignon Blanc and Grüner Veltliner, however we are looking at picking the Grüner Veltliner end of next week or beginning of the following week, about 2 ½ weeks behind schedule. I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz the entire Napa Valley is approximately two to four weeks behind schedule due to record breaking cool weather in July and August, averaging around 8 degrees below what we normally have here in Diamond Mountain.
We plant a little over 2 acres for this unique varietal (Grüner Veltliner), the flagship grape of Austria which Rudy grafted in 2005 to honor his heritage. Von Strasser is the very first to commercially produce a Gruner and still the only place in Napa Valley you will find this “refreshing, exciting and unique” white wine. This year we expect between 2 ½ to 3 tons per acre. Unlike the tiny Cabernet Sauvignon berries you expect to see on Diamond Mountain, we get more juice out of this white varietal because it’s a juicy, bigger berry producing a wine with tremendous backbone full of tropical fruits and green apple.
When Rudy first grafted the Grüner Veltliner in 2005 some people thought he was a little nuts because at the heart of Rudy’s craft is single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons. The story tells a little the quote from Field of Dreams, the 1989 drama, sports, fantasy film with Kevin Costner, when he hears a whisper from within “If you build it, they will come”. In the film Kevin Costners character pulled up his cash crop of corn to build a baseball field in the middle of nowhere. In 2005, we grafted over 1/3 acre of our cash crop, Cabernet Sauvignon, and planted this versatile, indigenous variety of Austria. Our first vintage was the 2006 with only 28 bottles and today our 2009 we have 177 cases, proudly wearing a score of 90 points from Wine Enthusiast. Today we have over 2 acres planted to Grüner and expect over 200 cases for the 201 vintage.
“Rudy, people will come Rudy. They'll come to Diamond Mountain for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it.Oh... people will come Rudy. People will most definitely come.”
Questions for Rudy:
What are your thoughts on the 2010 harvest?
It's my favorite vintage ever! My favorite vintage is always the next one I am making. Once I make a vintage it’s up to the customers to like it. I no longer have control of it. People always ask me my favorite vintage and I tell them it’s the next one, because that’s the one I can control.
How will the 2010 harvest compare to the previous year?
We have no way of knowing that because it hasn’t happened yet. Harvest is a culmination of the summer growing seasons and the fall growing season, with the fall weather probably the most important and we haven’t gotten there yet. Today, September 4th, we are probably a good month and a half away from most of our red grapes, which we will be picking around the middle of October which is typical for us. Actually it’s a little late, we begin picking the beginning of October, this year I’m expecting probably the 2nd or 3rd week of October, a little late but not tremendously late. Napa Valley normally has good growing weather through the end of October. November is when we start getting cooler nights and rain. We have plenty of time to get the grapes ripe but obviously we need some nice warm weather for the rest of the Fall.
How do you know when the grapes are ready to harvest?
It’s really just determined by tasting them, a combination of how they taste and how much more can I expect. There are some years where fully ripe for a grape may be a certain sugar level but that may not be the case another year. It’s a matter of how many leaves are left on the vine, how much day light hours, how cold it gets, are the vines still photosynthesizing, it’s just different every year.
(If you answer correctly we will treat you to 10% off your entire wine purchase* Please go to the "Shop" tab on the website and put the answer in as your special code. Any problems, feel free to call Amanda or Lindsay Faith here at the winery 707.942.0930. Cheers!)
What is the red flagship varietal of Austria?
*Offer good through September 30th, 2010