When to Harvest?

Happy 1st Day of Fall Everyone!

It has truly been an interesting year for the 2017 harvest season in Paso Robles. We started out, well, hot and heavy because it was in the triple digit heat for about two weeks in August. We harvested our Sauvignon Blanc, which was not too early, but the Syrah and Zinfandel were not far behind it.  It looked like we would be done with all our harvests in late August and early September, but the heat spell broke with the scent of rain and blustery winds…monsoon weather. We didn’t get the rain and crazy microburst that Santa Barbara did, but the temperatures finally fell below the 100’s, which all plants and creatures, including us humans appreciated.

September showed up with the 70’s and 80’s, which meant a slow down in the fruit ripening. As you can see, grapes (most agriculture for that matter) are affected by temperature. More heat means faster ripening. Less heat means slower ripening. At this time, we are waiting on harvests, but how do we determine when to harvest? Here’s a breakdown…

Brix – We test the brix (sugars) of the grapes with a tool called a refractometer. Generally, the winemaker will have a number he/she wants as a target for each variety of grape. This is decided upon what the variety will become as a wine. All wine grapes have to come into the winery with sugars for the yeast to eat, otherwise no fermentation can happen. On the other side, when fruit has more sugar it means less acidity, so there’s a balancing act. We still need acidity in wine to help formulate the structure. Once we reach the desired brix, it brings us that much closer to harvesting. That said, it isn’t the only factor we consider in pulling off fruit.

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A club member uses a refractometer to see the brix of the Cabernet at our Harvest Party 2011.

Feel – We use the feel of the grapes to determine if they are ripe. This is a lot like at home when you have a basket of strawberries in your fridge, you will not only use the appearance, but the feel to determine if a berry is ripe to eat (or too ripe). So, this is true with grapes, we take note if the skins are soft and velvety as a sign of ripeness.

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Ethan analyzes the berries of the Cabernet Franc. – 2017

Seeds – We also look at the seeds as they help show how ripe the grapes are. The seeds should be brown in color and crunchy. The pulp of the grape should easily separate from the the seed when it is ripe. There are some seasons, like this current one, where we may have to harvest without the seeds being 100% brown because the flavor, brix, and feel say otherwise.

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David is reviewing the seeds of the Cab. – 2017

Taste – Taste is a huge factor for determining when to harvest. There have been times when the brix were at the desired number, but the flavor wasn’t. Flavor may be one of the most important factors because how the fruit tastes as a grape will impact the way it tastes as a wine. If we pick fruit that is too green, it will show up in the wine’s palate. If we pick fruit that is too ripe, it will mean very high sugars, no acidity, and heaviness (syrup-y) for the body of the wine. Of course for a port, you would want high sugars, so it does depend on a winemaker’s intent. For drier wines, we do not want green or over ripen fruit, but instead balance.

The Elements – If it’s going to rain, sometimes it means that we have to harvest to avoid mildew and rot. This does depend on the variety, weather temperature, and wind. There have been years where some rain didn’t make a difference, but others sadly did.

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2017 Cabernet Sauvignon

As you can see, it isn’t one factor that determines when to harvest, but many. That is why intuition, knowledge, and goals will ultimately determine when each variety should be harvested because some years it won’t be clear. Lastly, being in Paso Robles, the special thing is we talk with other wineries about harvesting. We learn from each other, which fosters a unique community of respect and care.  So, with that, happy harvest to all our fellow wineries and vineyards out there! See you in December.

-Cecily

White Shade Cloth in the Vines

Happy Friday all!

With it being Summer, it is definitely a time for enjoying the sun, but as we know too much sun can lead to a dependence on aloe vera and cold packs. This is true for grapes, the sun is an imperative part of grape development, but too much can lead to issues. Grapes depend on the sun for photosynthesis to occur, but too much heat and sun can lead to sun burns, excessive sugar, and lack of acidity. This can result in unbalanced wines with high alcohol. The flip side of this applies as well…too little heat can prompt high acidity and a lack of sugar. Sugar is a necessary part of fermentation in the wine process. As you can see, there needs to be a balance, like in everything, for grape development to be successful and lead to deliciously, balanced wines.

How do you put reigns on a natural part of creation such as the sun? Viticulturists have been using the leaves for years in their vineyards to help facilitate sun distribution, but there is now a shade cloth that can be installed to help create even distribution of light. We recently installed this white shade cloth in our Adelaida Vineyard (Paso Robles) to do just that. It not only has a purpose, but looks really lovely.

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I was curious about the shade cloth, so after seeing our new tanks at our production barn (winery) I drove around our vineyard and found a tall man walking down the rows straightening the white shade cloth. It was my dad (David Parrish).

“Pretty cool, huh?” He said with a smile.

“Yeah! It looks great, dad. So, I’m assuming the shade cloth is to protect the grapes from the sun?”

“Correct….”

Thus started my dad on the innovation and science behind this white cloth.

It started 10 years ago when my dad was working with Paul Hobbs. He was seeing a need for sun protection, but something that wouldn’t completely block the sun from the grapes. My dad had been primarily working with dark shade cloth for nurseries with his company A&P. So, he began working with a company overseas, but the white shade cloth was very expensive. It wasn’t until a year ago when he found another company that he was able to invent a cloth that would have the perfect weave, exact spaced holes for easy hanging, and it was half the price of the previous cloth. It was also reusable and came on large spools for easy installation. Finally, a perfect match for what vineyards were needing!

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So, what makes this white shade cloth better than other shade cloths? There is a science to it and it related a lot to what I know from photography. The white shade cloth helps distribute the light by filtering direct sunlight, but also bouncing reflected light from the other types of sunlight through out the day. This creates more even lighting, which in turn develops more consistent fruit in the vineyard. Therefore:

The viticulturist gets better yield.

The winemaker receives better quality fruit.

The consumer drinks better wine.

A win for everyone on the trail from grape to bottle. So, it is actually a really important piece of innovation that could help the vineyard/wine industry be elevated overall…just with the basic concepts of harnessing light. “Pretty cool, huh?”

After my dad got done explaining all the information to me, I realized that we had bonded over science, which is not something that happens as he is very left brained and I am very right brained. Although, as I write this, we actually embody what wine is…science and art.

-Cecily

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Adelaida Project: Rain & the Bridge

Hi all!

Remember I mentioned rain in another post, well, we have certainly gotten that! In Paso Robles, we’ve gotten to date 17.40 inches of rain. It is truly amazing to see the hills green and the lakes & creeks full. In Atascadero, the small lake there is full again after years of dryness and the frogs were certainly happy. There was a ribbit symphony the other night when we drove by. So, a lot to be thankful for!

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The Adelaida creek restoration is looking wonderful. The water isn’t shooting down the creek like it did in past years and instead is trickling down to replenish the aquifer. We are so happy. The RCD and Conservation Corp did a fantastic job!

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Despite all the rain, the construction for the new winery is still moving as Rarig and their team work hard on days of “no rain.” The big exciting thing that is now on the property is the bridge! The bridge looks huge, but it is not actually finished as there is the stone work to be done. I for one am totally looking forward to seeing that as it is going to be gorgeous. Our architect, Shana Reiss, is very excited about the progress too (see below) as we’ve been working on these plans for years and to see it come to fruition is thrilling.

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The Bridge shows up!

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Bridge in place

 

Hopefully by next time I will have some other great shots of the project. Until then, try to stay dry!

Cheers!

Cecily

Conserving Adelaida Creek

Happy Friday All!

We are THRILLED we got our permit to go ahead with the Adelaida Creek Restoration!!! Wait, what’s this about? Well, it’s something very cool…

Upon purchasing our Adelaida property, my dad (David), was walking around and noticed:”hey, there’s a creek bed!” Prior to us putting in our vineyard, from the Adelaida Road you would have never known that it was there. This creek is actually where the Adelaida Creek begins and travels almost the entire length of our property!

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On our tallest hill, you can see the winding of the creek in the middle. 

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The beginning.

Every year when we receive our 1 downpour (that’s a sad CA joke), the water vigorously takes the path of this creek bed and washes all the way down to the Mid State Fair Grounds in Paso Robles, which is about 12 minutes from our Adelaida Property. I’m not sure how, but according to our local RCD, that’s the case. Not only is it a mess for the city, but it’s a waste of precious water!

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Dry grass, weeds, and my feet.

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We tried putting hay bails in the bed this last year to slow the waters, but they blew out with a heavy rainfall. 

After talking with a local biologist and Fish & Wildlife, we were introduced to our local Resource Conservation District (RCD) who shared that they could help us restore the creek. So, over a year ago we donated the creek bed to the County for restoration. This means with the help of the RCD and California Conservation Corps (CCC) we will be cutting down the weeds and planting over 600 native plants. The plants will help slow the creek so that any time it rains the water will not just race down to the fair grounds, but instead will percolate into the aquifer!

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My little fluff ball enjoying a run by the creek and vineyard.

Work has slowly begun as we wait for the CCC to return from Louisiana, but there has been some work started from the RCD and AmeriCorps Watershed Steward Program to take down the vicious star thistle (I can vouch it’s painful to weed eat). This is really a labor of love and I so admire the work they are doing and will do.

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Thistle.

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Philip (RCD Restoration Specialist) starts weed-eating.

In the future, probably next year, the County will be hosting 4 tours of the conservation project to the public. And once our tasting room project is complete, we look forward to giving tours as well.

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Another above shot of the Adelaida creek.

A huge thank you to Devin Best and Audrey Weichert for leading the effort and working with us! It has been such a pleasure to work with you.

Till next time,

Cecily

 

P.S. Permit for our winery project is almost there, we will announce once it’s in our hands.

 

Harvest

With the welcoming of Autumn, we are definitely in the midst of harvest. So far in the last month we have brought in from our Adelaida Vineyard: Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache, Zinfandel, various clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. It has kept us the busiest we have ever been, but it is worth it to have our own fruit in the tanks.

The toughest thing this season has been deciding when to harvest. Normally, we are waiting on the brix (sugars), but this year we are waiting on the flavor and the seeds to go from green to brown. We have certain brix numbers we want to reach with each variety, but going too far over will mean not only higher sugar, but alcohol as well.

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David & Cody talking about when to harvest this block of Cabernet Sauvignon

The weather has also been playing games ranging from hot-hot to mild days. The warmer the weather the faster things go, but with the mild days and cold mornings it slows things down. As farmers though, this is how it goes. The weather is always unpredictable; even with our technology, we cannot harness its wild side.

With the long days, one thing is for sure that we are at least spending a lot of time together.

Happy Harvest!

Cecily

 

 

New Label & Logo

Our newly bottled 2015 Sauvignon Blanc will be coming out in 2-3 weeks, so I thought it would be a good time to mention…it has a new look! We decided that it was time to update our logo and label for the next chapter of our journey. We know many members and customers have loved our labels and logo, so it wasn’t an easy decision. It would probably be surprising to know that I, the one who created the labels, was actually up for the change. When I created the labels, I was in art school, loaded with projects, and had a very short deadline. For the circumstances, not too bad, but there have been challenges with our current look.

After a year of me trying to come up with a new design and looking at 100’s of labels, it was time for us to hand the project over to professionals. I worked with Kraftwerk Design in SLO to come up with our new concept. So, let’s walk through the different elements of the label.

The name…it’s the same, but we wanted Parrish to stand out more. So, on the labels it will read “Parrish” in black. I am glad to hold onto something from the past label/logo as it was important to me to not have a completely foreign label.

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While we loved the tree, we wanted something a little bolder and cohesive across the bottles. Since we wanted to reflect our heritage, I felt a red seal would be nice. The rose is symbolic of our English heritage. That’s right, we are some English/Irish folks making wine!Parrish_Seal

The golf clubs are in memory of my great-grandfather Earl who had the 1st P.O. Box, planted 540 acres of grapes in Atascadero, and eventually had the golf corse (also in Atascadero). In the beautifully renovated rotunda, you will find a museum case that has some of the items from the golf course (so cool!). Since my great-grandparents and my grandparents, golf has been apart of the Parrish Family. I remember having a pair of pink golf clubs as a kid. We even have a golf pro in the family, my uncle, Patrick.

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The museum case

The seal is embossed and foiled in silver and red. It looks beautiful (thank you Slo Digital Dogma).IMG_4355

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The last change is we decided it was time to move to paper. I know this will be tough for some of our members to digest as they love the silk screening and believe me, I do too, but there were a lot of factors in the decision…one being that we wanted a classic look.

 

In conclusion, I have been so honored and humbled by all the wonderful words over the years about my work. Thank you so much and above is the new label completed.

-Cecily

Seeing Purple – Harvest 2016

On Monday we rang in the harvest season with our only green, golden grape-child, Sauvignon Blanc. It was beautiful and looks like it’s going to be a fantastic vintage! The rest of the season will be filled with blue, purple, and red grapes. Soon it will become a blur of purple as we will be harvesting a total of 11 estate varieties, forecasted to be 60 tons! This will be our busiest season ever, but our proudest.

Since 1995 we have been harvesting our own Cabernet Sauvignon, but this year will be the first year we harvest all estate fruit! Estate just means that it is from our vineyard. So, anytime you see “Estate” on a wine label, it means that the grapes came from that winery’s vineyard. Furthermore, it means that the winery has watched these grapes from slumber, bud, flower, veraison, ripe to juice. It’s a lot more work, but a dream for any winery. This is why this harvest will mean that much more to us.

So, what is on the line up…well, Sauvignon Blanc is one, but the other ten are: Cabernet Sauvginon (obviously, with it being us), Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Malbec, and Zinfandel. These grapes are coming from three terroir-diverse vineyards in Creston, El Pomar, and Adelaida, which are sub-AVAs of the Paso Robles District. Here’s a quote of my dad, David, from a recent article:

“Every year, the fruit is going to be different thanks to weather,” says Parrish. “But what we can count on are these three sites producing certain characteristics consistently. Creston, with its granitic soil and high calcium content produces grapes with beautiful color and flavor. El Pomar produces enormously round fruit and earthy flavors along with great mouthfeel. And in our Adelaida vineyard, with the mix of clay and calcareous, we get pronounced acidity, both full high tannins, great structure, and spice.”

This is why I find wine so fascinating is that every wine is going to be unique due to not only the variety, weather, winemaker style, but also the location (terroir) that the grapes were grown. As my dad says regularly, wine starts in the vineyard…how a vineyard is kept and its location will determine the grapes’ quality. So, here’s a cheers to the 2016 vintage as we feel it will be a great one!

Visit us next week (Labor Day Weekend, hurray!) at the tasting room as we’ll have out some of our Award Winning Wines!

Happy Harvest-

Cecily