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Carhartt Family Wines

2022 Fall Harvest Update

Sep 1, 2022
Harvest Update

CFW Rascal Family what is up?! In a literal sense, the temperature! As I sit here on the first day of September, just three days after our first pick of the season, we already have a high of 102℉!! This Labor Day weekend is supposed to continue with extreme heat, which means September picks are going to come much earlier than we had anticipated.

All in all, we had a relatively moderate spring and summer season. So much so that some of our blocks of Grenache and Mourvedre are still only 75% through veraison (change from green grapes to purple)! What exactly does this mean for this harvest, and is this ok for the grapes? The short answer is: yes it is ok for the grapes (in moderate amounts), and it just means that the harvesting of fruit is put into overdrive to an extent. The potential negative effects of high heat, at least for us, is that in certain varieties it would have been nice to see the fruit hang on the vine and mature in flavor profile a little longer than it will when temperatures sky rocket. I always use the analogy of “low and slow” cooking versus “hot and fast.” It is possible to achieve a similar result in both methods, with the hot and fast technique being superior in certain instances. In grape growing and winemaking, I would say that I prefer a slower ripening process, because it allows us more time to think, and also the grape to mature without sacrificing acidity and pH stability.

The good news is, we have a long road ahead of us. We have had vintages where we prayed for sun in the middle of October because a “cool spell” took over, completely halting the ripening process. This is mother nature – the gamble of farming. These are the situations that make certain vintages epic and others mediocre. This is the wine business in a nutshell, and boy is it fun.

For a little teaser and refresher course on what we will be harvesting this year, I will first mention that as of the 2021 Harvest, Carhartt Family Wines is 100% Estate driven, meaning that all of our traditional labeled wines are made from fruit that we grow at Rancho Santa Ynez and 11 Oaks. While many of those 2021 wines (mostly red) will not be sold for another year or two, we have begun the transition into an Estate brand which is a huge decision, and important for many reasons. The CFW Venture label on the other hand, has and will continue to source fruit from off-site vineyards. This decision is obviously to supply our family label with our own fruit and make as much as we can for our wine club, but more importantly because Venture is an experimental label. We purchase fruit from all over the central coast, often utilizing unique varietals and winemaking styles to further expose our club and consumers to the wild world of wine.

Each harvest, I feel as if the same topic is both the most exciting, and the most frustrating. While tasting all the beautiful wines that we make, it is wildly exciting to think about the happiness it will bring to our members and their friends when they finally taste them for the first time. Conversely, it is incredibly frustrating that many of these wines take months or even years to reach that point. For example, we made some incredible wines in the 2021 harvest that have not been released and/or bottled yet. Each year we get so amped on these projects, and then it takes years for them to reach the glass. Alas, such is the struggle of the winemaker.

I am sure I have rambled on enough at this point, and to tell you the truth, there are probably grapes and wines that need tending to. I will leave you with this promise: We at CFW solemnly swear to work as hard as we possibly can manage, to produce the highest quality, most inspiring, stimulating, and delicious wines possible. We do this in an effort to bring health, happiness, and love into your homes, to share with family and friends. This is the purpose. See you all on the other side!