Sauvignon Blanc is the first varietal we harvest each year. These vines grow on the valley floor at our Rutherford Estate, a few miles south of St. Helena. The typical growing season here is characterized by hot summer days and cool nights that extend into the morning due to the fog layer – a climate optimal for steady ripening. This year, steady temperatures and minimal late rain allowed the fruit to ripen at an ideal pace.

Harvesting wine grapes, day or night

In the dark of night in early September, harvest crews began picking Rutherford Estate Sauvignon Blanc. They prefer to start shortly after midnight, taking advantage of the coldest evening temperatures to maintain freshness of the fruit. Their goal is to get the grapes off the vine and delivered to the crushpad before dawn.

Harvesting grapes from the vine

We do a first pass and pick a portion of the Sauvignon Blanc grapes, followed by a second pick a week later.

Sauvignon Blanc fruit is on the delicate side. Once picked, the fermentation clock starts right away. Our team hand-harvests the grapes quickly, choosing only high-quality clusters along the way.

Once the bins are filled with fruit, they are transported to the winery with urgency to reduce contact of the juice and skins with the outside environment. At the winery, the berries are pressed and fermentation can continue in a controlled climate.

Action shot of grapes being harvested
Best breathtaking views seen from Long Meadow Ranch St Helena, CA

Our mountain Merlot vineyard is located directly above the caves at our Mayacamas Estate winery. These vines are flanked on all sides by native fir trees and are northeastern-facing with a beautiful sunrise view of the valley floor.

Merlot being harvested at Long Meadow Ranch

We hand-harvested the Merlot in early October this year, when the leaves on the vines were starting to turn bright yellow and the berries were deep bluish-purple color. The fruit is usually picked when morning temperatures on the hill are in the low 40s, locking in freshness and flavor.

Best views from a winery at Long Meadow Ranch St Helena

Once full, the bins are transported to the winery and await processing on the crush pad in the early morning light. Once the fruit is crushed, the “must” is put into tanks to ferment. After fermentation and pressing, the young wine will be moved to barrels to age.

Grapes being harvested and put into large container

With the exception of our Late Harvest Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon is some of our last fruit to be harvested. A portion of our Cabernet Sauvignon grows on the valley floor in Rutherford, with additional blocks high in elevation at our Mayacamas Estate.

Hands holding a grape cluster

Winemaker Lissane Leask inspects the fruit closely just after the bins delivered from the hillside.

Harvesting grapes at Long Meadow Ranch

Winemaker Justin Carr oversees just about every aspect of the grape processing once the fruit makes it to the winery.

View of the vineyard at sunset

The slow ripening that occurs in our blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon preserves the fruit’s complexity, while the steady sun exposure develops rich, ripe flavors in the berries. Based on what our winemaking team has seen, our 2019 wines will beautifully showcase the outstanding 2019 growing season.