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Crushin' the 2013 Harvest

Oct. 23, 2013

Harvesting Grapes at Seven Hills Vineyard
We completed our 2013 Crush yesterday!

Crush (a word we industry folk use to refer to grape harvest) is a busy and exciting time of year for us.  We’ve been pulling in fruit almost daily since September 6th and have crushed approximately 2/3 of the 2013 bounty thus far.

You may wonder how we know when the grapes are ready to be picked. The levels of sugar, tannin, and acid in the berries determine this. We measure the various levels using a refractometer (an instrument which measures the sugar content, or ‘Brix’) and by simple, old-fashioned tasting.  A third-party lab is sometimes used for backup analysis.
 
Ripeness isn’t something that magically and instantaneously occurs here in the Walla Walla Valley. It occurs at different times site-to-site, varietal-to-varietal. In terms of the site-to-site progression within our estate vineyards, harvest begins at Seven Hills and Stone Valley Vineyards, then progresses to Pepper Bridge Vineyard, finishing at the base of the Blue Mountains with our Les Collines Vineyard. Within each specific site, varietals also ripen at differing rates. Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc are the first to ripen, and are generally picked right about the same time. What about those famous Walla Walla reds?? Here’s the short list:
 Grapes
1.    Merlot
2.    Syrah
3.    Sangiovese
4.    Malbec
5.    Cabernet Franc
6.    Cabernet Sauvignon
7.    Carmenere
8.    Petit Verdot
 
The progression of ripeness generally takes around 6 to 8 weeks to spread across the valley. It’s been an exciting growing season this year – one we haven’t seen the likes of since ’93 in terms of heat units.

For more about harvest and how the 2013 growing season went for us here in the Walla Walla Valley - stay tuned. We'll be sure to fill you in as things slow down a little!

Cheers-
Ashley