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Kristin Belair
January 21, 2020 | News | Kristin Belair

Honig Harvests First Grapes of the New Decade

Is it 2019 or 2020?*

Making Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc provides a new challenge every year.  Some years, due to adverse conditions, we don’t even try.

2019 was looking like a “Don’t Even Try Year” if I had ever seen one.  However, we persevered. Regular harvest was later and lasted longer than average, with our last Cabernet Sauvignon harvested on November 1.   Usually November is a rainy month, providing enough moisture to get the Botrytis (or Noble Rot) growing on the Sauvignon Blanc fruit still on the vine.  Botrytis is a mold and it requires free water, generally from rain or fog, to grow.  This was not to be for November 2019.  With humidity running in the teens and single digits, Botrytis growth seemed doomed. No Botrytis, no Honig Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. The extremely dry November was followed by storms for most of December.  Botrytis was growing. OK, that is good.  Now we needed the November weather back to dry out and concentrate the berries. 

We waited, checked the Brix (sugar level), waited some more, and checked again.  By the beginning of the holidays the Brix was between 26 and 29 degrees, not high enough to do anything with.  So, we took a little break and we got some more rain, a little sun and a little wind.  When we came back after the holidays we checked again.  On January 7, 2020 it was just over 35 Brix.  Oh, so close.  There was a small window in the weather, with some moderate winds and drying, so we decided to make a go of it and picked the fruit on the very frosty morning of January 10th, 2020. The first Napa Valley grapes harvested in the new decade!

Happily, it pressed out at just over 36 Brix, which is just high enough to make a lovely late harvest wine with.  It is currently, happily fermenting in a small tank and when we are ready to stop the fermentation, we’ll chill it and add some SO2.  After it settles, we’ll move it into specially selected new French oak barrels for aging, until it’s ready for bottling in early August. 

Meanwhile our lovely 2018 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc is available at the winery.  It has its own unique story as well.  Give it a try! Click here for a video of the picking

*Even though the 2019 grapes were picked in 2020, since vintage refers to the growing season the vintage will be 2019.  Harvest just went a little long…


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