This week, between the rains, Bedell Cellars is machine picking their chardonnay. The picture shows the last gasp of a pressing of the chard from the winery’s horizontal pneumatic press. The juice is sticky and sweet. Up until now, Bedell has only handpicked grapes mostly so triage can be exercised in the vineyard. The damp growing season has resulted in a lot of botrytis, and stink rot, says Donna Rudolph, the assisstant vineyard manager. I’m not sure what stink rot is. The Oxford Companion to Wine lists 14 different kinds of rot, including sour rot.
a breakdown of mature grapes caused by a mixture of fungi, bacteria, and yeast which invades damaged berries. The fruit takes on the smell of vinegar, and juice from rotting berries can spread the infection, as can fruit fly. Common entry points for the mixture of microbes are bird pecks as well as splits in berry skin caused by rain. Some organisms involved are the fungi Aspergillus, Botryosphaeria, Cladosporium, Monilia, Penicillium, and Sclerotinia and the yeast Saccharomyces. The rot is encouraged by rain and high humidity, and control relies on avoiding fruit damage as well as encouraging fruit aeration.
Sounds like a challenge.
So far Bedell has picked their sauvignon blanc, gewurz and riesling. Up the street at Lenz, gewurz is still hanging and it looks beautiful. Signs of botrytis are evident in shriveled grapes that have turned a little purple. The bunches are tight and still straining to pick up any list bit of sun.
When I stopped by, winemaker Eric Fry was waiting in the field for a helicopter to land. Someone was stopping by to try some wine.