A Summer Harvest Report

by St. Supery on July 9, 2013

Those of us who are longtime Napa residents can say without hesitation that we are having a fantastic year of weather. We had a fairly dry winter and a lovely warm spring. More recently we were treated with a refreshing rainstorm followed directly by a short heat spell the week of July 4th. The buzz in the industry is that everyone needs to be gearing up for harvest because it’s going to be an early one. But you know how buzz can be…

While all of us at the winery can confirm it has been a very warm and sunny 2013, only a few of us are qualified to comment on what this weather means for our estate grapevines, so we asked our Director of Vineyard Operations, Geoff Gatto, for his expert assessment. In Geoff’s own words…

“Anticipation is high, as the workers know that in a short time, harvest will be upon us. With the wonderful weather this far, the grapes appear to be one week ahead of schedule based on historical data.”

When pressed, because really – how can Geoff know that the grapes are approximately one week ahead of schedule?— Geoff revealed that the secret is in knowing exactly how grapes develop in June and July.

According to our expert, towards the end of June and the first part of July, the berries are rapidly growing in a stage referred to as bunch closure. Usually by the end of July, the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc berries begin to soften and slightly change color, a process called veraison (veraison is a few weeks later in the red varieties). At veraison, berries on red varieties begin to change color from green to red. From veraison on, most of the plant’s resources are directed from leaves, shoots, and roots to the berry for rapid sugar accumulation. After veraison, berries begin to gain many of the varietal characteristics that will be found in the ensuing wine as well as tannins and other compounds. Once veraison has taken place, it’s time to get ready…harvest is surely around the corner.

But, it’s not always that easy. As Geoff reminded us, the course of development can change in the blink of an eye, depending on what Mother Nature has in store. So I guess we can’t hold him to it if harvest ends up being not quite exactly one week earlier than average this year, which should be a few weeks ahead of our harvest last year.

{ 1 comment }

Geoff Gatto, Director of Vineyard Operations, is our very own fountain of viticulture knowledge. We’ve been very lucky at the winery, as Geoff is always willing to patiently describe every development in our two estate vineyards located in Napa Valley. He even uses terms that do not require an advanced agricultural degree to translate these vineyard updates into easily digested tidbits. (With one exception, Geoff still has us stumped on how to define soil series vs. soil variations – but that is a story and maybe…lucky you…a blog, for another time).

Recently, Geoff walked us through the practice known as “field grafting” while out in our Dollarhide Estate Vineyard. Field grafting is a technique that requires great skill and precision, think of it as grapevine cardiovascular surgery, that can provide tremendous benefits in the vineyard. In its most ineloquent description, field grafting is a way to take a pre-existing root and slap on the bud of a different variety. If perfectly executed and maintained, the grapevine will produce the grape that has been grafted on, not what had been growing before.

Have we confused you with our attempts at describing this Frankenstein-like science? Perhaps it’s best to watch the video and let Geoff show you how it’s done.


Fish Tacos & Sauvignon Blanc

May 3, 2013

All of us at St. Supéry Estate are pretty excited about #SauvBlanc Day coming up on May 17th and a lot of our conversations around the winery have turned to our favorite food and Sauvignon Blanc pairings. Rumor has it Pam, one of our spectacular wine educators, has the best fish taco recipe that she […]

Read the full article →

Bud Break is upon us at St. Supery Estate

April 8, 2013

We checked in with Geoff, our Director of Vineyard Operations, to get the latest vineyard news. He happily reported that the buds are breaking in St. Supéry’s Dollarhide and Rutherford Estate Vineyards. Our hillside vineyards are alive with the (very quiet, really mostly silent) sounds of Cabernet Sauvignon pushing through. The Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and […]

Read the full article →

Meet the Winemaker!

March 19, 2013

St. Supéry Estate’s winemaker, Michael Scholz, is leading two live online tastings this week on ToutSuite with the help of beverage culture icon and Mutineer Magazine president, Alan Kropf. Thursday, March 21st – 4 pm PST/7 pm EST Saturday, March 23rd – 1 pm PST/4 pm EST Join Michael and Alan online as they taste […]

Read the full article →

Cabernet and Cookies

February 13, 2013

Does it get any better than that? Scott Tracy, our in-house sommelier and food & wine pairing guru developed this shortbread cookie recipe to pair perfectly with our 2009 Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. On cookie and wine taste testing day at the winery, the approval of this delicious combination was unanimous. Try the recipe […]

Read the full article →

Certified Napa Green

February 6, 2013

It’s official! St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery is now certified both Napa Green Winery and Napa Green Land. Our Environmental Engineer, Joey Giordano, led the charge to raise our winery’s sustainability practices to meet and exceed the very high standards of the Napa Green certification. These standards, established by the Napa Valley Vintners, focus […]

Read the full article →

A Holiday Treat – Moscato & Cheese

December 18, 2012

‘Tis the season of holiday cocktail parties, large family gatherings, and cozy nights at home with loved ones. This also means, ‘tis the season of copious amounts of delicious food and superb wine pairings. And who couldn’t use a quick and foolproof, but still dazzling, recipe to bring to the table (if you will…) this […]

Read the full article →

Supporting the Napa Valley Food Bank

December 4, 2012

This November, we challenged our employees to form teams and compete to bring in the most non-perishable food items benefitting the Napa Valley Food Bank. With a weekly prize on the line, we were floored to see the generosity of our employees as donations piled up in our barrels. (We also learned people will do […]

Read the full article →

2012 Harvest Update

September 28, 2012

Geoff Gatto and his team have been harvesting St. Supéry’s estate grapes since 10:00 PM on August 27. Most of our harvesting is done at night and in the cool morning hours here in Napa Valley. Our vineyard team gets to sleep sometime in the mid afternoon (sometimes) and start again that evening. It’s a […]

Read the full article →