A Determination of the Role of Fruit Maturity in the Sensory Properties of Paso Robles Cabernet Suavignon Wines

This project attempts to clarify the consequences for wine flavor that result from harvesting fruit at different maturities. It aims to do a complete study (from a sensory and chemical analyses point of view) from the vineyard to the resultant wines. During the 2006 harvest we harvested from a single vineyard at six time-points over a ten week period (September-November 2006). The samples spanned maturity levels from what would be considered early/normal harvest (average Brix=22) to late harvest (average Brix=30). The grapes were evaluated by a trained descriptive sensory panel and by Napa Valley winemakers. The trained panel found subtle but consistent differences among grapes harvested at different times. The Napa winemakers each used their own method to determine whether the sample grapes were ready to be harvested and that over the period of observation the grapes became more likely to be ready to pick. Additionally, grape berry samples were prepared and frozen for chemical analyses. The wines were made and will be evaluated by a trained sensory descriptive panel (in April) and Napa Valley winemakers (in June). Wine chemical analyses are on-going.