Each vintage has its own personality and is remembered for different things. From heavy rains to heat, and wildfires to earthquakes, responding to each year’s challenges often defines what goes into the bottle. The 2016 vintage, however, can be characterized by some of the most consistent weather we’ve had in California for years.
Left: taken while walking the steep slopes of the Carneros Chardonnay block, tasting berries and deciding on when to pick.
Right: Smothers fruit lined up in macrobins at the crush pad, ready to be sorted, destemmed and then gravity fed into tank
Yields came in right around average, and grape chemistry and flavors were in extraordinary balance. This was primarily due to the pleasant and moderate climate throughout July, August and September. In California, we regularly experience heat spikes during the harvest months, where daytime temperatures reach into the high 90s/low 100s for several days at a time. Depending on the vineyard and stage of ripeness, heat spikes can be detrimental to quality. We had only one mild heat spike this harvest, which actually had positive impact on the fruit that was still on the vine, pushing some of the slower ripening vineyards along. The harvest was brought to completion just before the three days of rain on the second week of October, replenishing the soils and phasing us into autumn.
The pink ladies of the basket press! Making a press cut on Kellog vineyard/Knights Valley Cabernet. All of us happened to wear pink that day.
With just over half of the wine pressed off skins, I’m already seeing that the balance in the fruit is being reflected in the wine. The consistent weather allowed a very precise level of ripeness to be achieved, getting the most out of each vineyard’s terroir. The wines exude stellar concentration and elegant structure, along with a freshness that is highlighted by the beautiful aromatics. Following their evolution from barrel to bottle over the next couple years should really be a treat.