Gilbert Cellars Post Harvest 2012: Power and Elegance

Winemaker Justin Neufeld

Ah, 2012. We shall remember you fondly-from your slightly earlier and warmer spring to your consistently hot and sunny summer and, finally, your nonstop, promising crush. From what he’s seeing in barrel so far, Justin thinks this vintage will have enough power to put it on par with 2007 & 2009, but with a hint of elegance. As we put crush to bed, we want to fill you in on how it all went down.

A mini subculture develops at the winery at harvest time, and the team develops inside jokes and speaks a shorthand language all their own. Hands covered in purple stuff eagerly take quad shot lattes as a welcome diversion from the onslaught of grapes. Watching the guys come together to hand-craft our wines was one thing, but there’s no way to know what really went on unless you were there — 12 hours a day, seven days a week. This year, Justin’s team of Geoff Howell (his 3rd harvest with Team Gilbert) and new additions of Charlie Gilbert with help from Brodie Woodward-Pratt rocked it out (both literally & figuratively). Geoff was essential to ensuring smooth day-to-day operations and Charlie tirelessly processed samples, unloading grapes into crusher/de-stemmer, and for the last few days, has done countless punch-downs.

Overall, we saw reduced berry size at harvest and a canopy in balance with the crop load — Justin says the Doc Stewart Vineyard looked especially good this year.

Harvest kicked off with Doc Stewart Chardonnay brought in on September 15th — when the sun was still hot and there was limited wind. For me, the fascinated observer, I could see the intensity of crush mounting around late October, as Justin’s signature mountain-man beard became more grizzly with each bin of fruit that was delivered. Luckily, his go-to neon green zip-up makes him easy to spot on the forklift (see above photo).

The 1st through 2nd weeks of October gave us a bit of a frost scare, but we escaped unscathed and were able to let our later ripening varieties hang until the end of October. The fruit that came in was wonderfully balanced in both chemistry and flavors. As the full moon of Halloween found Team Gilbert, the work seemed longer than ever, but they were on their way to the end. Justin wrapped up crush with Mourvedre for our Rose on November 2.

An early highlight is the East block of Doc Stewart Syrah–ahead in maturity, with smaller berry size–it is showing more savory notes with greater concentration on the palate than fruit sourced from the West block, which leans more toward the red fruits with some fun citrus notes. To say the least, Justin is excited about blending options for the 2012 Doc Stewart Syrah.

Due to demand for our whites (thanks to you!), we were able to add a second press and a new tank to our facility as well as additional crush pad space. Justin took advantage of these, and every tool in his winemaking arsenal. Look for our stainless steel aged whites in bottle in March 2013.

We look forward to sharing a glass of the 2012 vintage with you!

Team Gilbert.

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