From cellar to vineyard
With the exception of the grapes we still hope to pick for Eiswein, the 2012 harvest has ended. It was a record harvest - at least in terms of length. Never before in the estate's 140 years did picking continue as long as this year. On 26 September we started; on 22 November we stopped. The last grapes came from the site Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland. They were of Auslese quality.
We consistently "played our cards" with a steady hand right to the end. For the most part, we also ignored must weights, long considered a primary measure of ripeness. Instead, we relied on the actual taste and condition of the grapes. So much so, that in the middle of the harvest, we simply stopped picking for four days because the grapes to be picked had not yet developed sufficient aromas and flavors. This year, such a break wasn't a problem at all. There was hardly any rot; must weights were not nearly as high as in recent years; and the weather during the harvest was nearly perfect. At the same time, the skins of the berries remained very thick and somewhat bitter for a long time. Thus, it took longer to reach the desired aromas. The size of our crop was fairly average. We had a so-called "autumn of envy" - a term in Germany that refers to considerable yield fluctuations from site to site or even within a site. Happy are owners with holdings in sites or parcels with very good yields; those with dreadfully low yields are "envious" of their neighbors.
The quality of the crop spawned no envy. It was simply a joy to monitor the condition of the grapes: healthy to the core, completely ripened - nearly perfect. Stefan Ress (or, as we call him, "our senior"...father figure) said he couldn't remember having seen such beautiful grapes since 1990. That says something. Particularly if one looks at the growing season in retrospect. The year began with unseasonably mild temperatures until there was a brief, but severely cold, period of winter weather in February. March was again too mild. In April, there was a cold snap, which led to the latest bud burst in the last decade. Things warmed up again in late April, nearly too warm, and May brought some record temperatures. Until the end of May it was drier than average. The weather in June was too cool and wet; blossoming was extremely prolonged. These conditions caused us great problems with plant protection. The risk of infection was enormous and we had our hands full dealing with this. Never before was the plant protection season such a challenge. During the end of July and most of August we enjoyed true summer weather with high temperatures and ideal conditions for grapes to ripen. They remained relatively healthy until the end of the harvest. Fantastic circumstances...yet, we won't have any great, lusciously sweet wines this year. We simply were not able to find truly good grapes infested with noble rot. BUT, we're betting on an Eiswein. The fantastic grapes remaining on the vine have been wrapped for protection. Now it just has to turn cold.