August ushers in harvest season in Arizona wine country. LDV will begin harvesting white wine grapes by mid-to-late August. LDV crews are busy preparing barrels, cleaning tanks, making room in the winery, bottling the 2014 vintage, and lining up harvest crews. As the brix levels continue to rise in the vineyard, the winery is buzzing with activity getting ready for the 2017 vintage. From the look of the vineyard crop load, the 2017 vintage is anticipated to be large.
LDV Winery Viognier (“Vee-own-yay”) is typically a full-bodied white wine with aromas of peach, tangerine, and honeysuckle. LDV picks Viognier at two different brix levels allowing us to produce two very different wines with different taste profiles. The first harvest of Viognier grapes is done early at about 23 degrees brix to focus on the stone fruit, citrus, and minerality. The second harvesting of Viognier at approximately 24 degrees brix is to showcase tropical notes such pineapple and papaya. Tests done the second week in August indicated that the brix level was only at 20 degrees. It is now a waiting game and patience is not the winemaker’s strongest virtue.
The Viognier crop load is substantial after a small harvest last year. With the cluster formation and spacing, we do not have to worry about bunch rot. However, that is a concern in other parts of the vineyard because the red wine grapes need more hang time and we have experienced substantial rain in the past of few weeks.
Viognier grapes are harvested in half ton bins that go straight into the winery to cool. After cooling down, the grapes are destemmed and put directly into the press where the juice and solids are separated. The juice goes into 305-gallon fermentation tanks and chilled at least overnight. At this point, the juice is inoculated with yeast. LDV uses two different kinds of yeast; each matched to the different Viogniers. Fermentation lasts between 5 and 8 days until all sugar is eliminated. At that point, LDV will do the first racking of the Viognier to remove solids. The Viognier will go into tanks to begin its journey to finished wine.