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Crush Update: Week 7

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Posted: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 2:01 pm

"It was a busy week for Zin," wrote Alison Colarossi of Estate Crush, where 14 tons of Lodi's most famous grape got started on the journey to becoming wine, along with separate batches of Sangiovese, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.

4 days in a row of temperatures above 100˚ during the 7th week of Lodi's crush finally moved the rest of California into harvest frenzy, including the first Calistoga and northern Napa Valley Cabs. One vintner, Mike Drash of Tallulah Wines in Napa, reported that this was the first time in 18 years that he didn't pick anything in September.

In past years, when I've asked winemakers about quality, they usually paused while considering how to phrase a response. This year they immediately shake their heads, amazed and excited at the high quality they've seen arriving in bins.

"Crazy color. Should be an outstanding year," wrote Jorja Lerner about their star-performing Harney Lane Lizzy James Old Vine Zin.

Equally ecstatic was Susan Ripken, "We picked 19 acres of Zinfandel red. The flavors were excellent! The best we've seen from that vineyard!"

Per Randy Caparoso's blog on, Bruce Fry of Mohr-Fry Ranches said the 109-year-old Marian's Vineyard Zin he picked for St.Amant came in at 27˚ Brix, "about one week later than normal."

Also picking old vine Zin were Kidder Family Winery, Borra Vineyards, and Klinker Brick, who pulled in their Syrah as well.

A continuing consensus is building for a smaller crop than usual, as a result of an uneven spring fruit set for some varieties and ruthless crop thinning to remove lagging bunches.

"Weird, and disappointing - the yield on my Tempranillo vineyard is off by several tons. Too bad, cause it's dang fantastic tasting," per Layne Montgomery's m2 Wines Facebook page.

Tempranillo also hit crushers at Fields Family and Bokisch Vineyards, with another Spanish variety, Graciano from the Bokisch backyard Las Cerezas Vineyard heading out to Heritage Oak and Kidder.

Cabernet Franc went to Dancing Fox, who, along with Fields Family, Kidder and Jeremy Wine Co. crushed the Italian Sangiovese, while the last Merlot went from Joe Cotta to Gallo and from Borra to wineries back East.

Signifying the beginning of the end, Joe Cotta's oldest Cabernet vines yielded fruit at 24.7-25.7˚ Brix, 3.39-3.6 pH for Woodbridge Winery.