Grapes and Girlfriends: Gibsey’s 2023 Harvest Report
A Farmer’s Idea Of Fun
5:30 am alarms, grease smudged, sticky hands, wet boots and an ever growing harvest beard that hides the slightest little grin of joy; this is my harvest report on Josh Beckett and our Thibido Vineyard. For twenty six harvests, Josh has delighted in every aspect of winegrowing and winemaking, and harvest evokes a giddy joy as if every morning were Christmas morning for this guy. His highlights include the dusty tractor work, fixing a greasy chain on the pomace spreader, tasting grapes or meeting picking crews in the dark of the morning to greet a vineyard sunrise. Make no mistake, Josh is equally joyful in the winery this time of year as well. Foot treading The Bedfellow Syrah grapes, helping me pack your wine club shipments, sniffing the Just Because carbonic Syrah to check its progress, tasting more grapes, sorting and dumping bins of fruit and trying barrels of new blends for the 2024 Spring release wines. He barely sleeps during this season trekking from vineyard to winery and back again all fueled by grapes of various ripeness.
Time Well Spent
Did you know that we refer to the Thibido Vineyard as Josh’s “girlfriend” because he spends all his free time there? I joke that he often chooses her over me. Well, that vineyard, she is growing up, and as the vines age, the grapes produce more intense, sophisticated flavors in your wine glass. Planted in 2019, she’s coming of age in this 2023 vintage and its proving to be not only a challenging one but rewarding as well. The long winter brought buckets of rain that helped our young vines extend their root system and establish themselves for years to come. With water comes growth and as each vine attempted to sprout and grow with the exuberance of youth, Josh was right there to curb her enthusiasm by trimming canes and dropping fruit to keep the plants from exhaustion. Restrained growth and limited clusters per vine lead to low yields and high quality results that we hope are reflected in every bottle you drink.
Moving Right Along
We’ve already picked Grenache, Zinfandel and some Syrah off the estate and we’re looking forward to harvesting the rest of the Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan when the time is right. Once the vineyard is taken care of, the work is far from over as we shepherd fermentations to finish, punch down caps of stems and skins to extract flavor, color and tannin, keep an eye on our two amphoras of Vermentino and Grenache and check on that carbonic process every once in awhile. Josh has more decisions to make along the way in order to determine how wines evolve in the winery and that happy little grin will probably get bigger as we get closer to the finale. “The girlfriend” will require far less work for a few months of winter and I’ll get more time with him. And I’m hopeful his big harvest beard is gone when harvest is over, too.