Quick Update: Block 1 is at 21 brix, block 2 is at 22.3. It has been fairly hot this week but temps are expected to drop down to normal this weekend. Fruit is looking good.

Tuesday, 8/26/09 – I’m driving in to the Napa Valley. It is 11AM and the fog has just burned off. It’s 59 degrees. When I take the photos below (around 3PM), it has warmed up to 83 degrees. Those temperature swings are a big part of what makes Napa Valley wines great. It has been a mild weather year.

Butterdragon Hill has completed veraison.

Baconbrook has completed veraison as well. The grapes are just at that point where the are no longer sour and are starting to taste sweet.

8/15/09 Butterdragon is just about finished with veraison.

Actually, the cluster below will probably get dropped early. Notice the immature or incompletely formed berries.

Butterdragon Hill

Mild weather continues in the Napa Valley. Today the sun didn’t come out until about 1:30 and the high temperature will be just in the low 70’s. At Butterdragon Hill, overall veraison appears to be about a quarter of the way complete though a few clusters like the one above are further along. Clone 15 is ahead of Clones 7 and 337.

Baconbrook Vineyard

Baconbrook continues to be further along. It is 3/4 or more through veraison.

I spoke with our vineyard manager, Jim Barbour, this AM. It’s still too early to get an accurate crop estimate but it is currently looking “medium size.” Butterdragon is running about 1 week behind where it was last year. Veraison has not really started.


Starting to get a bit of purple hue. Veraison (when the grapes turn from green to purple) is just around the corner.

There are a few purple berries…

Every year we have to replant a few vines.

Butterdragon Hill

A lot of leaf overgrowth brings mildew danger.

In order to reduce mildew threat, we go from this…

…to this. Leaves are thinned out to allow more airflow around clusters.

Baconbrook Vineyard

Berries are a bit fuller than 3 weeks ago, but we’re still a few weeks out from being able to make an accurate crop size estimate.

Baconbrook Vineyard

Butterdragon Hill Vineyard

Barbour Vineyards has just come through and leafed back the vines on Butterdragon Hill. Looking very clean.

Starting to get berry formation at Butterdragon Hill

Getting close to time to leaf the vineyard to bring back that canopy a bit on Butterdragon Hill

Baconbrook is further along with clusters showing more berries

Baconbrook shows less vigor, undoubtedly due to less water retention in the soil

It’s been the 3rd driest year on record. A particularly mild winter and spring got everything going early. Everyone was expecting early harvest and that proved to be true.
Baconbrook’s crop was about what we expected: we harvested 6.3 tons on Sept 25th. Brix was ideal at just over 25. It is currently fermenting like a champ.
Butterdragon kept getting put off. Suddenly, although the vineyard still looked strong, we started seeing quite a bit of dehydration. Panic mode (which seems to be the norm in farming at harvest time) set in. We harvested the 3 rows of Merlot on Sept 29. We brought in .82 tons of Merlot. Cary lowered the estimate of how much Cab we would be bringing in to Rombauer from 9 tons to 7. (Unlike in the past where we sold a set number of tons or half of our grapes to our grape buyer, this year the buyer had designated rows which meant anything not on those rows would go to us.) On October 1st, we trucked over 13.45 tons of Cab!! The crew at Rombauer certainly gave us a ribbing how our 7 tons became almost 14! Oh well. It remains to be seen if all that will make it into the final Butterdragon blend. I can say that although the brix was 27, the fruit tasted really great; particularly striking wa the taste of the skins. If we can avoid a stuck fermentation, it will probably be some monster juice.

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St Helena, CA 94574
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