How long is the harvest? This is a common question; the answer has never been “a month” until the 2022 vintage! "What a beauty," is what we may say a couple of years from now when enjoying the elegant wines from this year. The 2022 vintage was a real challenge, especially completing the harvest in one month when it usually takes two. As I write this, tanks are still fermenting, presses are still running, and grapevines are taking a long overdue drink.
The 2022 vintage was very consistent, with summer temperatures that did not see peaks or troughs. This was until our extreme heat event that expedited harvest and will likely mark the vintage for all of California. The heat wave hit at the exact moment when the fruit was at the tail end of its ripening journey. At this point, the pathway from the berry to the vine is closed, and berries lose moisture and gain flavor intensity rapidly under hot conditions. This peak point in ripening only lasts a few days before it starts to become more intense and “ripe.” For those who enjoy complex yet balanced wines, it left us no choice but to dance a fine line that could potentially spell disaster. This vintage forced vintners/viticulturists to make a decision they had likely not faced before. Should we leave the fruit to endure and hope for the best, or should we harvest the fruit with more certainty? Over a week of 105-degree-plus temperatures is nothing to shrug your shoulders at, and surely many Paso Roblans lost sleep thinking of their hard work melting away on the vine.
At Adelaida, we pride ourselves on our less-than-forgiving slopes and higher elevations. These characteristics of our land make our wines what they are, and in heat events, the vineyards and harvest are at risk. We have gone down this road before, and it was rocky, but this time we chose to pick beautiful fruit instead of letting the elements create raisins, and it looks like we made the right call. 2022 will be an interesting vintage to drink across California, as you will likely be able to taste the difference between fruit picked before and after this vintage-marking heat event.
We usually wrap up harvest in late October, as fall is setting in and vineyard leaves are starting to change. This always makes us wish we had more time for the vines to recover before going dormant. One positive that has come from an early harvest is the luxury of a longer post-harvest season with leaves still active. This year we will be putting out our in-house compost (made from pomace and wood chips from around the property) and planting our cover crop in anticipation of Fall rains. Though the 2022 harvest was quick and difficult, we are grateful for the extra time we will have to care for our vineyards this fall.