Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

October 16, 2021

Written by Ken Wornick

Backed by 20+ vintages and many dozens of wines produced, Ken is a Sonoma-based wine consultant and founder of Sonocaia Estate Vineyeards, Dysfunctional Family Winery and Hydeout Sonoma.
#

Go back to the blog

For Hydeout Sonoma and Dysfunctional Family Winery, it’s another wine harvest in the books. Vintage number twenty-three for me.

Here is a quick pictorial essay of the entire 2021 season.

pile of vine cuttings - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

On a bright blue day in February, pruning of the dormant vines is the first order of business (here we severely pruned an old vine Zinfandel block and piled up these cuttings for a local artist’s wood project)

old vine Zin Sonoma Valley - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

The vines after pruning, a bit of rain falls, and the mustard cover crop starts to push

Frog Creek Ken cuttting the mustard 1 - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

Soon the mustard is towering over the vines (here I am in a drone-shot in a newly planted Cabernet block)

Offset disc 1 - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

It will be time soon to begin actively farming for the season, and so we start prepping the equipment for the next few months of heavy use.

Estate Sagrantino bud break - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

The mustard cover crop is mowed down, the soil warms, the vines wake up, and bud break is under way (but rainfall totals end up well below average in 2021, and the season ending with just 11 inches of rainfall versus a normal of 32 inches, severely taxing the water table as we watch our deep aquifer wells dry up)

Gehricke - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

But grapevines are hardy and soon the vine shoots are elongated, and deep inside the canopy the fruit begins to flower and set.

Tomatoes - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

And our garden at the Hydeout responds to the summer heat with a bountiful harvest

raw fruit 1024x768 1 - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

And the next thing you know, like magic, tons of fruit is ripening quickly.

Drive out 4am - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

The first morning of harvest, and I am headed out at 4:00am, the car still a comfy 71F from being in the garage, but it’s a chilly 48F outside.

Harvest in the dark - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

I arrive to find the crew well underway with harvest, as the first few vines get picked.

Fruit inspection 5am - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

And after a long season of work, the half-ton bins begin to fill with ripe dark inky fruit

Almost done - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

The sun rises and last few rows of this block get harvested.

Half ton syrah - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

And soon many tons of perfectly ripe fruit are ready for delivery to the winery

Harevst wrapped up - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

And eight long weeks later, the last bin of fruit is picked and is headed for the flatbed truck, and the team takes a big sigh of relief.

Tank 20 - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

And now the work moves to the winery, here tank #20 is cleaned and prepped for some ripe Syrah from Kenwood

Yeast - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

The yeast selection for this cuveé has been made, and this particular selection is a powerful one that will reliably finish fermentation in high-alcohol super-ripe red wines

New York City guests - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

Excited clients, family, and friends stop by the winery to celebrate a year’s worth of effort safely in tank

barrels 2 - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

And once fermentation is complete a few weeks later, the wines are “barreled down” and the season is put to bed!

Click on these live-action videos to get the real feel of the moment:

Picking fruit by hand on a steep hillside

Filling a half-ton bin from the forty pound lug boxes

At the winery, raw fruit from the field is processed in the destemmer

Wine from the 80s and 90s - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

After the harvest, some wine-loving friends gather to share ten special old bottles from our cellars:

  1. Botte Frères Vin D’Alsace Gerwertztraminer, 1990, Cuvee Exceptional
  2. Gundlach Bundshu, Sonoma Valley, 1990, Cabernet Sauvignon
  3. Clos Fourtet, 1st Grand Cru Classé, Saint Emilion, 2005
  4. Grand Vin De La Chateau Latour, Paula, 1990
  5. Haywood, Spaghetti Red, Sonoma Valley, 1983
  6. Silver Oak, Alexander Valley, 2003, Cabernet Sauvignon
  7. Hansen, Limited Release, Paso Robles, 2009, Cabernet Sauvignon
  8. Dalla Valle Vineyards, Napa Valley, 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon
  9. Dalla Valle Vineyards, Napa Valley, 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon
  10. Senots Yendick, Napa Valley, 1999, Cabernet Sauvignon
Huichica at GunBun - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

As the harvest winds down, look no further than just north across the street from the Hydeout Sonoma and Dysfunctional Family Winery to the Gundlach Bundschu Winery and the Huichica Music Festival. This is a photo from opening night on Friday, 10/15/21

Ken on horseback - Harvest in Sonoma Valley, from Vineyard to Winery, the 2021 season

And there’s just enough time before winter arrives for this winemaker to head off to Ennis, Montana for some fresh air

You May Also Like…

Farm projects at Hydeout Sonoma

Farm projects at Hydeout Sonoma

Hydeout Sonoma farms grapes, olives, chickens, fruit trees, and bee hives, and is home to owls, bats, rabbits.

6 Comments

  1. Michael

    Always an education to follow your interesting timelines and posts.

    Reply
  2. Nick

    Dear gosh you make that horse look good. Ranger

    Reply
  3. Elaine

    Always a pleasure to see the year in photos! Looking good Mr W.

    Reply
    • Cindy

      Great to see all the hard work and expertise involved in making great wine! Looking forward to tasting! Glad you could escape to Montana and get in some riding! Enjoy:-) my best to both you and Cynthia!
      Cindy

      Reply
  4. Susan

    Beautiful photos to accompany your interesting stories about the 2021 growing season! Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Sally

    Cowboy Ken. A natural.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *