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Grapes and Girlfriends: Gibsey’s 2023 Harvest Report

Josh Beckett, Thibido Vineyard, Grapes, Organic Farming
Josh treading grapes with barefeet, Homestead Hill Syrah, Thibido Winery

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.

Gibsey Beckett, Josh Beckett, Organic Farming, Thibido Vineyard

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. 

Josh testing wine from the amphora
Red wine, swirl, vineyard, organic farming

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.