With the arrival of warmer weather along Sonoma County’s coastal hills and valleys, the 2010 grape harvest at J Vineyards & Winery kicked into high gear. Harvest crews were busy picking Pinot Noir grapes from J’s "Nicole’s" and "Robert Thomas" Russian River Valley estate vineyards throughout the early morning hours, arriving just in time for a short "Blessing of the Grapes" ceremony at the winery.
Heavy coastal fog and low clouds shrouded the region in June, July, and most of August, pushing the annual grape harvest back about three weeks. Temperatures, however, began to spike warmer this week, pushing the coastal clouds offshore and helping grapes destined for sparkling wine to mature to their desired ripeness and bright acidity. The varietal wine harvest throughout J’s ten Russian River Valley estate vineyards is expected to begin by mid-September.
"We finally hit our optimum sugar levels for sparkling wine," said J Viticulturalist John Erbe. "We will continue concentrating on sparkling wine for the next three weeks, and then follow up with a three-week harvest of our grapes bound for varietal wines."
With the harvest delayed due to the unusually cool weather, both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay appear to be ripening on a parallel path. Such a compressed, rigorous harvest can push a winery to its limits. At J Vineyards & Winery, a complex "battle plan" has been put in place by winemaker George Bursick to make both the sparkling wine and varietal wine harvest transition smoothly.
"J’s ‘two wineries under one roof’ production concept comes naturally to our team," said George Bursick, Vice President of Winemaking. "Everyone has a key role — whether making sparkling wine or varietal wines — to ensure that the grapes John Erbe has nurtured are turned into extraordinary wines."
"Mother Nature definitely threw us a curve ball this year; however, the extended grape hang-time has allowed for some stunning flavors to develop. Everyone at the winery is excited about vintage 2010’s quality," Bursick added.
The winery, located on Old Redwood Highway south of Healdsburg, focuses on Brut and Brut Rose sparkling wines, as well as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris varietal wines, produced from grapes farmed primarily within Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley appellation.
The winery, founded by Judy Jordan in 1986, will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary next year.
To learn more about the winery, or to join the J Wine Club, please call (707) 431-3646, or go to www.jwine.com.