28 October 2013 by Mr. P. Andrew Taylor
In this trade, it is not entirely uncommon for one to work multiple harvests in a year by following the ever- alternating seasonal shifts between the northern and southern hemispheres. Typically, this is done so with a measure of time spent in leisure, as well as in transit, amid the two turns of the same vintage. Such stretches of time are characteristically registered in many of months, separated by thousands of miles, and often by deeply contrasting climates. Indeed I too once embarked upon such an ambitious pursuit in my younger years, finding myself knee- deep, as it were, in ripened wine grapes on the vast continent of Australia, only months after finishing harvest in our beloved union of States.
Rarely though do the more stationed of us experience such multiple, distinctly different harvests in a single year, particularly without leaving the region. Vintage year Two Thousand- Thirteen however, asserted itself as conditionally dichotomous… a near- record, hot and early start to harvest, transitioning to a long, cold wet spell, followed by a very late, but thankfully cool and dry end to the vintage. We started the “first harvest” early in September picking a rapidly ripening Syrah for our L’Afrique, under blazing hot and dry conditions. Shortly thereafter thirsty vines were slaked with several sodden weeks of relentless rains. This torrent effectively signaled the end of one harvest before ushering in the beginning of another. We had fairly finished fermenting everything from the first round of picking, and had fixed our site on the mid- point of October, before the “second harvest” set in. Cool and dry days dwindled while the Pinot Blanc for our Sac’Résine was brought in from the fields.
Typically while waiting between two distinct harvests, ones travels might convey them to Dordogne (for a visit to an old university chum), or bring about an excursion to the spice markets of Istanbul (research and inspiration of course). However, the furthest my travels carried me between these “two harvests” was to the old Mission city of Los Angeles in the south of California State. Though not nearly as exotic, the jaunt was suitable stimulating, if not decently enchanting… a bit like the two harvests of Vintage year Twenty- Thirteen.