The 2016 Harvest will be remembered due to its challenges. An atypical rainy year in Mendoza, thanks to the whimsical “El Niño” current that has put vintners and winemakers to the test. This vintage can deliver great, different wines… wines with the potential to be extraordinary. But how the 2016 wines will turn out, we still don’t know. Today we are in the middle of harvest and these are our challenges:
Harvesting the grapes in our Altos Las Hormigas estate, Luján de Cuyo
In this estate the harvest began on March the 14th, picking up the Malbec grapes. Having uninterrupted sunny days for a while helped keeping a good harvesting rhythm, since all our grapes are hand-picked, we must have good weather conditions.
Some of the days were actually quite hot, but that didn’t stop the harvest taking place during morning and afternoon. The harvesters seamed tireless, coming and going with the baskets filled with grapes. After pouring the grapes in the bins that take the bunches to the winery, they are given a token that they will exchange for their payment.
On March the 29th we started picking up the Bonarda grapes. Leo Erazo, winemaker at Altos Las Hormigas, explains that this harvest started later than the previous years. A fundamental piece of our wine-making philosophy is harvesting early. The wines made with these grapes really show true fresh and mineral notes. But this year harvest began almost a month later than 2015, because it is equally important to achieve the necessary ripeness to pick up the grapes.
In the meantime, at the Uco Valley…
If you had the feeling that harvest in Luján de Cuyo beginning the mid-days of March was a little late… well, harvest in the Uco Valley has begun the last day of March. We joined Leo walking through the Uco Valley vineyards to taste the grapes from the vines and evaluate their ripeness before harvest.
Leo explains that in this area a lower than usual sugar concentration is not a main concern, since the lower the sugar, the lower the alcohol. Wines with lower alcohol and higher acidity can show better the characteristics of this Terroir.
Something that caught our attention was the color of the leaves in the vines. Due to the fact that we are in the last days of Marc, autumn is showing up in Mendoza and the plants are beginning their winter rest. Yellow and reddish leaves were all over the place.
For those willing to perform a job for ants this year, following closely the evolution of the grapes and taking good care of the vines, there might be a reward waiting at the end of the harvest.
Our friends the ants teach us every day to keep working firmly on target in spite of the obstacles. They are not afraid of the rain; they are not discouraged by the weather conditions. We neither. We move forward in the 2016 harvest trusting that at the end of the road a great prize will await us and…who knows… maybe a nice surprise too.