Ready, Set...Fruit!

Ready, Set...Fruit!

The following text and photos are contributed by Flying Goat Cellars Ambassador Faye Walker:      


Fruit and Seed Development
While our summer in the Sta. Rita Hills might not yet seem entirely warm or welcoming, grapevines are being spurred to turn carbohydrates and mineral nutrients into fruit.  We're entering the season of fruit set.        

On the biological side of things, the fruit set stage is the point of development in which a flower changes into a young fruit that will grow to maturity.  Usually, the main flowering and fruit set take place around the beginning of summertime.  Different varieties can also set additional clusters in second-crop fruit after the main fruit set takes place (pinot noir has a high propensity to do so), but this fruit is usually removed from the vines before harvest to avoid unripe clusters mixing with the ripe berries.    

Summer Along the Pacific 
Flowering and fruit set are largely determined by temperature. But our local temperatures never seem to rise beyond the mid-seventies--to the extent that some of the coolest grape-growing regions in California are within the valleys of Santa Maria and Lompoc. As it turns out, Santa Barbara is a geographical fluke:  whereas most of the coastal ranges in the state run north-south (parallel to the shoreline of the ocean), ours runs east-west. The result is that our area of Santa Barbara County is utterly exposed to the Pacific coast around Point Conception. In other words, anyone walking through the flower fields of Lompoc around June or July will find that they have to wrap themselves against the cold damp fog that defines our mornings.      

Our landscape has the added advantage of being rich in active calcium. The arrangement of the hillsides and the nutrient content of their mineral-laden soils are particularly well suited to vines. In fact, chardonnay and pinot noir give their best in this cool weather climate. The flavors that emerge in the hands of artisan winemakers are bold, engaging, and balanced.    

A "Good" Vintage?
The process of fruit set will determine the final number of clusters, the size of the berries--and the overall potential of the crop in general. We will see and hear more about the current crop as time goes on. But whatever we know now is that Flying Goat Cellars is able to make the very best of reds, as well as a few whites, from our vineyard sources. Nearly everyone who has tried the gamut from 2021 to 2001 vintages knows that future releases are worth following.    

And it's no surprise given the man behind the making. With a wine career that began under the Frei Brothers Winery in Sonoma, headed to Australia's Margaret River region, then hurtled to the Willamette Valley of Oregon, our winemaker had already forged his identity before touching down in Santa Barbara County. Norm launched the first wine of his own back in 2000, a mere ten barrels of pinot noir. In 2005, the first Goat Bubbles sparkling wine emerged from Santa Maria vines along the mesa.    

One of the best things about Flying Goat and Goat Bubbles? The wines showcase the singularities of the different sites from which we source. The wine program in our cellar is based entirely on purchased grapes from carefully selected sources in the Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and Sta. Rita Hills. And in each vineyard-designated bottle is an intoxicating origin story that is ready and waiting to be uncorked.     
Sources and Further Reading:
Asher, Gerald.  A Vineyard in My Glass.  University of California Press, 2011.

Haeger, John Winthrop.  Pacific Pinot Noir:  A Comprehensive Winery Guide for Consumers and Connoisseurs.  University of California Press, 2008.  

Wikipedia.  Annual Growth Cycle of Grapevines.

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