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Blog – 10/20/09 Topic :  Harvest

Fall is definitely upon us here on the Central Coast and the 2009 harvest continues to be a busy one.  After having a frightening seven inches of rain last week we had another day of rain again yesterday. Luckily this time we were able to get all of our Zinfandel out of harms way and into tanks before any damage could be done to the grapes.  As I mentioned in the last blog, rain can be potentially harmful for the grapes during harvest, especially Zinfandel, so we are very glad we were able to get all of our Zin picked damage free!

Although the hours have been long and the work has been hard this harvest, the spirits remain high on the cellar floor.  I recently got a chance to chat with Chris Hawkins, one of our new cellar hands, about his harvest experience.  This is Chris’s first time working a harvest and his first time working for a winery.  He admitted to me that he knew harvest would be busy but he had no idea it would be this busy.  Chris has been working nearly seven days a week on the day shift for the past three weeks and he told me everyday has been as busy as the day before and sometimes busier.  Even though the work is hard Chris said he enjoys it because the crew is great and, as a newbie, he feels like he is learning something new everyday.  Last week he dug out his first tank and he said by the end of it he could hardy pick up the shovel.  “Honestly the work has been tough, but it’s a good tough.  My body feels great and I have learned a lot about making wine.” – Chris Hawkins.

In the world of bottling, things have been quite busy as well, with 6,000 cases bottled a few days back in a single day.  It can be hard to keep up with all of the bottling going on around here but in order to make room for all the incoming grapes we have to bottle everyday.  Soon enough things will start to slow down and as the winter approaches we will have plenty of Dam Fine Wine in the works.  Stay posted for more inside info!



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Blog 10/13/09 – Topic: Harvest

Welcome to the first Castoro Cellars Harvest Blog!  As you can imagine harvest is well under way here in Paso Robles, California and as usual there have been plenty of surprises this harvest, including the weather we are currently experiencing.  We have gotten over an inch of rain today, which can pose quite a challenge in the harvesting of certain varietals, especially Zinfandel.  In the past couple of days we have been in a mad dash to selectively pick as much of our ripest Zinfandel as possible.  Niels put it best when he said “Zinfandel and rain really don’t get along this time of year.”  This is because the Zinfandel clusters are very tight and when the water gets into the clusters it can get into the skins of the grapes and cause them to burst. Once this happens the clusters begin to rot, which doesn’t leave you with much to work with.  Luckily, we were able to pick our Whale Rock Zin, Primitivo and Carignane before the rain hit.

Even though the rain can bring picking to a halt it isn’t all bad.  Having a break from the constant influx of grapes gives us some time for cleaning and rearranging that we usually don’t have.  Without too many grapes coming in for a couple days we will be able to move wine around, press and clean tanks and get the winery ready for another round of grapes.  After a month and a half of harvest the winery can get a bit hectic, kind of like your house after a big party, and having a couple of days to pick up the pieces can be like a breath of fresh air.

According to our Winemaker Tom Myers, even though the weather has been funky this year, the average yields per vineyard have been up about 10% and the overall quality is looking very good, which means we should be in for some delicious wines coming out of the 2009 harvest.  As I am sure you can imagine, working in the agricultural industry is always very tricky, which is partially what makes it so exciting.  We can never predict what Mother Nature will have in store for us, so all we can do is pay as close attention as possible and roll with the punches.  We are very fortunate at Castoro to have an amazing staff that will, without a doubt, make the most out of whatever conditions come our way.  We are very confident this year will be a year to remember and we plan to continue improving our Dam Fine Wines every year!  Stay posted for the next 2009 Castoro Cellars harvest Blog.