In wine country, harvest is more than just a season of grape picking and winemaking—harvest is a culture of its own.
Harvest season is the culmination of an entire year’s worth of work and preparation. This year in Dry Creek Valley has been a year of sunshine, rain, wind, frost, heat spikes, and so much more, all impacting the character of the grapes and ultimately the wine that goes into a bottle. No matter how prepared you are, when harvest arrives, it’s go time!
The early bird gets the grape
Come August, the grapes our crew have so lovingly cultivated are ready for processing! Sugar levels are measured and grape phenolics are tested. Once Fritz winemaker Brad Longton deems the first Sauvignon Blanc grapes ready to pick, we head out for an early morning on the Fritz vineyard. Keeping the grapes as cool as possible, evening and early morning picking allow the grapes to retain their structural integrity and pH stability. Plus, keeping the crew cool on a hot summer day is a high priority!
Post-pick, the grapes are cooled down with dry ice to protect them before they head to the press, creating a more fruit-forward and structured wine.
On our third-tier crush pad, freshly picked grapes head to the sorting table to weed out leaves, rocks, underripe grapes, and anything else that doesn’t belong in the fermentation stage. Grapes are then gently crushed and juice is gravity fed to the tank on the second tier of our underground cellar to ferment into wine!
In most modern winemaking, this is where pumps are used to move juice from press to tank, but this method can be harsh on the young wine’s structure. As a gravity-fed winery, Fritz uses a hands-off production style to avoid using pumps or other tools that could negatively affect the natural integrity of the grapes and wine, such as oxygen. This is a longer process but ultimately results in higher quality wine.
From barrel to bottle
Gravity is the best way to ensure this newborn wine is safely and smoothly delivered to barrel. Once in the barrel, the body, depth, and complexity mature while tannins and acidity are softened. In the barrel, the wine is aged until it is ready to be bottled. After that? It’s yours to drink! From Sparkling Wine to Russian River Pinot Noir and Estate Zinfandel, you can find it all at Fritz. Add us to your next wine tasting itinerary—our tasting room in Northern Dry Creek Valley is open every day of the week!