The Excitement and Exhaustion of the 2019 Harvest
By Quincy Barton, vineyard manager
That’s a wrap for harvest 2019! We are very excited to announce that all of our grapes for the 2019 vintage are off the vines and waiting patiently in the winery. The weather was very strange this year. We experienced very heavy early season rains, coupled with an uncharacteristically cool spring and early summer, which led to a delayed harvest. We picked about two-three weeks later than usual, making it our latest harvest in recent years at Fall Creek Vineyards. The anticipation was worth it.
If you have ever had the opportunity to experience a harvest (grapes or otherwise), you understand the two overarching themes of the season: excitement and exhaustion. Long days followed by even longer nights become the relentless schedule for every vineyard worker and winemaker alike. Undoubtedly, however, the delirium and extreme sleep deprivation is nothing in comparison to the satisfaction of being a part of such a critically integral aspect of the winemaking process. Truly, there is nothing more rewarding for someone who has spent countless hours in the Texas heat tending to the vines than to work alongside other impassioned people for one last hurrah, collecting the fruits of such tremendous labor.
The key to having a successful harvest is to have a strong team of individuals who have a heart for wines and a work ethic to match. Luckily, at Fall Creek Vineyards, we have exactly that. As an extension of that fortune, this theme carries across the street to our partners at the Salt Lick Vineyards. This is the site where the grapes of some of our most elegant wines are grown. While soil type, climate, varietal selection, are absolutely important factors behind this, we fully acknowledge the impact of their incredible vineyard management as well.
Harvest at Salt Lick Vineyards
I had the pleasure of getting to experience harvest with the Salt Lick Vineyards team for our Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, and Cabernet Sauvignon harvest and to say that these guys know what they’re doing is a colossal understatement. Joining in with the team for their night harvests, we started our evenings around 8:00 p.m. and worked through the dark hours of the night underneath the light of the beautiful starry sky aided by the glow of our headlamps. It isn’t easy work, but it is enjoyable.
One of my favorite nights this season was during the Tempranillo harvest, when the Perseid meteor shower was in full peak. Half the evening was admittedly spent staring at the sky and enjoying one of nature’s most captivating phenomenon’s—an experience I would have otherwise missed.
Harvest at our Oxbow Estate Vineyard
Across the road at our Oxbow estate vineyard, our harvests took place in the early morning in an attempt to beat the scorching heat. The morning of our Cabernet harvest was particularly memorable. A myriad nocturnal critters were enjoying our vineyard at 4:00 a.m. when I arrived to remove the bird netting from the vines. The final count was one armadillo, three opossums, six deer, a couple wild hogs, and one bobcat (the “yipping” of adolescent coyotes could be heard all around, but thankfully never seen).
This season we had several amazing wine club members volunteer to help us with both the Cabernet and Carignan harvests this year, easing the burden of our staff quite a bit. We are tremendously grateful. There were opportunities for great pictures and even greater fellowship together. It is a fantastic way to learn a lot about what goes on in a vineyard as well as foster an even deeper appreciation for what ends up in your glass as a final product. We love having our volunteers come out every year, so if you are interested in helping out with the 2020 harvest, let us know!
Anticipating a Stellar 2019 Vintage
All of our tank space and almost all of our barrels at the winery are completely full, making this one of our biggest harvest yet! We are especially very excited about our very first harvest of our Carignan here at our Oxbow vineyard and our neighbor’s Salt Lick Vineyard up the road from us. So far, we are very pleased with how promising this vintage is turning out to be. We will have a lot of really delicious rosés ready for next summer, so stay tuned for those releases. Overall a VERY fantastic harvest for 2019. We cannot wait to share our new wines with you soon!