It’s time to take a deep breath (which is hard to do with this mask), relax a bit and estimate the 2020 harvest. Harvest time is a source of inspiration and exhaustion in a large package of two months to develop body and mind.  In fact, it is difficult to say exactly what the harvest means, it always seems that the rest of the year is either far away, or that we have to work with the results of the harvest. From inspecting the vineyards and working with the producers, to trying to produce grapes of the highest quality, to cleaning the grape baskets and containers, to analyzing the wines, to bottling on the shelves, to closing and finally bottling, it is a continuous cycle of winemaking that never seems to stop. Since we now have wines in barrels with the vintages 2019 and 2020 (and even some Solesce 2018 and Opulento 2014), several vintages are attracting winemakers in many directions at the moment. Okay, okay, let’s focus on what happened this year when the grapes came through the door.

We did well, there were no serious setbacks, nobody got hurt, there were no serious material failures, the team was great and in general everything went well.  By the way, we made a very good wine!  The harvest started a little earlier than expected, when Syra and Tempranillo started on the 3rd day. September has come out of the heat of the stone tree. That was long before Labor Day, which ended on the 7th of this year, so there was no long summer holiday for the harvest team. From there the grapes came regularly until the 24th year. October, when the last of the Sangiovese vineyards was harvested in the Solstice vineyard, just as the state was hit by a severe frost that pushed all winegrowers to the finish line. The total number has decreased, partly because we reduced the harvest slightly this year, but also because the harvest was lower than usual.  In the end we brought in 106 tonnes of grapes, just over half of which went to Brian Carter’s winery, and the rest was used for our customers crushing the grapes. Reducing the harvest turned out to be a good policy, not in the least because we could not press as many grapes a day as we usually do. That’s because we had to have a social distance from the JACK selection line. We used plastic sieves to separate the crew, which meant we simply didn’t have enough room to have so many staff, so we had to slow down and crush fewer tonnes a day.

Fortunately, there was never a big hurry, things matured in an orderly way, and I could follow my travels through the vineyard, walk the rows, taste the grapes, take samples for analysis and make sharp decisions about when to harvest. The general conditions in the vineyard this year were quite optimal, with very few really high temperatures that could cause a lot of sunburn or burnt acidity, but with enough heat units for the size of the crop to allow everything to ripen in time. These more moderate temperatures optimized both the fruity character of all the grapes and the color of the red grapes. The resulting wines have a lot to offer. Very well sorted characters, good balance and dark colors in red. Of course we always appreciate the quality, but next to Tempranillo the white and rosé wines are especially interesting.

We’ve just begun the first post-malolactic shelf. Hopefully we’ll have them by the end of the year, which is always a good place to start. Then it’s time to prepare Oriana and Abracadabra Rosa for bottling. Then there’s my favourite time of the year when I start blending wines. The cycle continues…

Drink great wines this season. Stay safe.  I hope to see you soon.

About Brian Carter’s basement.

As a renowned winemaker based in Washington, D.C., with over 41 years of experience and excellent quality, Brian Carter has created a unique wine collection that combines the best Washington fruit with the classic elegance and tradition of European blends. From tasting the unique artwork on the label to the last sip, the wines from Brian Carter’s cellar will suit your special occasions, family celebrations and moments of life, big or small. For more information, please visit


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