Harvest is a crazy, busy time of year at St. James Winery. Grapes come in by the truckload to swirl in the crush pit and flow through the juicer to move along into the cellar where they will become wine. The aromas alone are intoxicating. Vignoles grapes smell of fresh-cut-grass and honey. Concord fills the air with palpable homemade jam aromas.
Our vineyard and cellar crews work day and night to make it happen. St. James Winery has 185 acres of vineyard, with the annual harvest being the culmination of growing flavors that are crafted into award-winning wines you know and love. This is truly farm-to-table agriculture in the heart of Missouri wine country.
With us being a little over three weeks into our 2019 grape harvest, we thought it was time to give you an update on what’s happening by asking Executive Winemaker, Andrew Meggitt, a few questions.
Of the varieties you’ve harvested so far, which are you most excited about and why?
Valvin Muscat and Seyval. Valvin has an aroma profile that crosses from floral to tropical – bodes well for the wine (Valvin Muscat is in our Moscato).
Seyval has a depth and tannin structure that we have not seen in 5-6 years. (It) should transform into a very interesting wine (Seyval is in the Winemaker Series Seyval).
How are you feeling about the grape harvest so far (i.e. quality, aromas, taste, etc.)?
(I’m) never really happy with it until I see the wines in December, January.
Quality has been consistent through all the varieties, standouts are the Valvin Muscat and the Seyval.
The Vignoles is like a snow leopard. You know it’s there but can’t find it and when you do, it’s magnificent.
How much tonnage have you harvested so far?
1300 + / –
How has the weather impacted this year’s harvest?
Yes, the rain has made it very challenging. All varieties are 10-20 days later than normal.
The rain and cooler summer made harvesting condensed on the early varieties where we may have normally had 10 to 12 days – we had 10-24 hours between varieties.
The first night of harvest you mentioned wanting to focus on the winemaking more in-depth this year. Can you elaborate on this statement?
We have constantly pushed ourselves to run trials over the past few years. That’s where we get better results and see improvements in the wines. The last 2 years, we have not done this due to time and space constraints. We are experimenting on varieties this year.
What are some of the difficulties you’ve faced with this year’s harvest?
Weather – space – staff shortage – compressed harvest period – weather (did I mention that?).
How many employees are on the farm crew and how many employees are on the cellar crew?
Farm: 9 + Raul (Viticulturist) and Sam (Vineyard Manager)
Cellar: Myself + Aaron (Assistant Winemaker) + Chaz (Winemaker) + Kendra (Lab) + 6
(3 of the farm staff are currently working in the cellar for harvest)
What is the estimated number of weeks remaining for harvest?
Approximately, 4 more weeks.
We hope you look forward to seeing how the 2019 varietals turn out. Until then, you can enjoy our current selections and as always, cheers!