Part of what makes winemaking and grape growing so exciting (and sometimes nervy) is that we are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Each year, we have no idea what curveball we are going to encounter – sometimes it’s small issues and other times we have some big problems to address – such as the weather in the 2011 vintage. This year was no different.
A warm winter led to early budbreak, which was a contributing factor to this record-early harvest. The flowering season which occurs in the spring and is a critical step in the growth and development of grape clusters lasted for a long period of time and as a result, the “set” was light – lighter than normal. Entering harvest, we thought we would be picking grapes early but how early – that was the surprise. Our first load of Chenin Blanc arrived in early August and it was fast and furious after that. Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay followed with Zinfandel coming in at the same time. As usual, the Bordeaux varietals were the last to arrive at the winery but by Friday, October 2nd, we were officially done with harvest. A record early finish to be sure! So why the early and light harvest conditions? A number of factors played a role including the spring set but also the persistent drought conditions coupled with three above average vintages in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The vines seemed to say “we’re tired” and with a lack of water, yields were down overall. That said, we are thrilled with the quality grapes we did receive. The flavors are concentrated and several of the wines that have finished fermentation already taste outstanding. We are looking to bottle the 2015 Chenin Blanc and 2015 Sauvignon Blanc before the end of the year!
We are thankful for the cellar team and vineyard crews who did such an incredible job during a challenging and fast paced season. Most importantly, we had a safe crush and now we can look forward to some delicious wines in the coming months and years ahead.