Harvest 2021 Q&A with Estate Winemaker Josh Widaman
With the 2021 harvest wrapped up and sealed with a bow, our team checked in with Estate Winemaker, Josh Widaman and Viticulture Director, Gustavo Aviña, to ask them about their first harvest together at Pine Ridge Vineyards. In this Q&A, we excerpt three of their most memorable responses to our questions.
Q:How was your first harvest as Pine Ridge Vineyards winemaker?
A: How great was the 2021 vintage?! Let me count the ways. While the threat of fires and smoke hung over every decision that we made, this was miraculously not a feature of this harvest. In addition, the overall cool growing season guaranteed bright fruit expressions and powerful tannin structures, two of my favorite qualities of world-renowned Cabernet Sauvignon. Last, and most importantly, I found myself working with a highly engaged, educated and very experienced team from the vineyards to the cellar. Overall, it was the embodiment of a dream first vintage for me here at my new home.
Q:What do you find to be the most challenging part of harvest? The most rewarding?
A: The most challenging part of harvest for me is the amount of time that harvest takes away from my family. Having done this for over half of my life, I feel a gravitational pull to the vineyards and cellar each and every harvest season. Luckily, I have a wife and two kids that understand this important part of my being and support my efforts and focus fully. In fact, some of my family’s favorite pastimes are vineyard sampling together and sipping unfermented grape juice with pancakes on Sunday mornings. The most rewarding part of harvest is the culmination of our efforts from the entire growing season, in addition to the fast-paced activity that accompanies fruit arrival and fermentation. Year after year, Gustavo and his team painstakingly belabor details about how to get the peak of quality in the fruit coming off each vine. Once that pick date is set, it is up to us in the cellar to honor and protect that wine as it journeys from grape to barrel. The single most invigorating part of harvest is the understanding of how every decision has a butterfly effect that will define what the wine will show like out of bottle 40 years from now. With high stakes like that, you can’t help but be thoroughly invested in the entire process!
Q: Are there any harvest traditions that you have for your team?
A: My single favorite harvest tradition is the blessing of the grapes. I feel that it is the best way to honor our past accomplishments, while focusing ourselves on finishing the quest of the growing season with the flourish that is harvest. One favorite of the cellar crew’s that we continue to increase and improve upon is celebrating, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19th. This year we shared this tradition with all the wineries in our company in addition to the sales, marketing and administration teams, and I thought that it was a rousing success. You may have seen our pirate flags flying high that weekend. I could go on and on about harvest traditions, but these are a couple of our favorites.