2009 Highlands' Pinot Noir Crush Wraps Up

Megan Smith READ TIME: 2 MIN.

The 2009 Pinot Noir harvest is wrapping up in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, with winegrowers reporting potentially very high quality and normal yields. Some of California's finest vineyards call the S.L.H. home, with more than thirty winegrowers cultivating over 2,500 acres of Pinot Noir there.

At the Pisoni Vineyard, Gary Pisoni is very happy with the quality of his just-completed Pinot Noir harvest: "The eventual '09 vintage looks very promising. It was the third consecutive dry winter which limited yields and the cool summer and fall, with only one small heat wave, gave us mature fruit at low sugar levels. We are seeing great density, acidity, and high tannin levels." The crush at Pisoni ran along fairly traditional timelines, beginning mid-September and finishing mid-October.

Dan Lee of Morgan Winery is also excited about the quality of the Pinot Noir off his organically farmed Double L Vineyard: "We started picking Pinot Noir on September 12 and are just now finishing up. It is a light crop, at over 100 tons, about 20% less than a 'normal' year. The fruit is very focused; quality looks very good. At midsummer, we were 5 to 10 days behind a 'normal' schedule. We had a temperate August with less fog and one warm spell that caught us up in sugar levels but not necessarily in flavor development. The winemaker that looks to the flavors and not the sugar levels will be rewarded this harvest - patience is key."

At neighboring McIntyre Vineyard, this year marked the thirty-third Pinot Noir crush on one of the district's oldest, sustainably farmed estates. Owner Steve McIntyre: "It was a great growing season, on par with '07, until Labor Day. Some 'heat spikes' then accelerated sugar numbers with phenolic balance lagging behind. Happily, cool fall weather has allowed the flavors to catch up and the fruit we brought in looks very good indeed. Just slightly higher than normal crop levels off the McIntyre property but very high quality.

The '09 vintage? Cool temperatures, no damaging rain, gentle ripening - just another perfect Pinot harvest in paradise."

The Santa Lucia Highlands is one of the crown jewels of California viticulture, growing and producing some of the state's best cool climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah.

The appellation encompasses more than 5,000 acres of prime vineyards; the area's unique character was recognized with official A.V.A. status in 1991.

Formed in 2005, the Wine Artisans of the Santa Lucia Highlands is a formal association of vineyards and vintners that grow grapes here or use this region's fruit to craft their wines. Their primary goal is to promote this unique viticultural district and increase awareness and appreciation of the Santa Lucia Highlands.

On February 8, 2010, thirty member brands will be pouring their S.L.H.-appellated wines for the trade and press in San Francisco at Fort Mason. The general public is invited to sample the wines of the Highlands at a gala tasting at Hahn Estates on Saturday, May 15, 2010. To learn more, please visit www.santaluciahighlands.com.

by Megan Smith , EDGE Assistant Travel Editor

Megan is the Assistant Travel Editor for EDGE Publications. Based in Australia, she has been published in gay and lesbian publications in both America and Australia, and she has been on assignment as a travel-writer for Let's Go travel guides in Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii.

Read These Next