1. What was the growing season like?
Cool – not spike except for the spring frost. No rain, very cold nights – the temperature diurnals were the crazier than usual.
Was it overall cool, warm, mild, dry, wet?
Very mild, dry, with fog every morning.
Was there anything remarkable about spring set, summer weather? Rains, frost, storms?
Just the frost and the coolest summer ever.
2. What were harvest conditions like?
It was one of the coolest summers on record. After a severe April frost (for early ripening varietals) there were no significant weather issues besides a spot of rain. The days have been benign with slow ripening yielding fruit which has ripened late, with low sugars and higher acidity. For the Bordeaux varietals it will be more like Bordeaux with potential alcohols in the 12.5 to 13 percent range.
Was it early or late, rushed or well-paced?
We were not rushed – its been the smoothest harvest I’ve ever done. Very slow and even ripening so.. no drama, no panic, no hurry.
Did the grapes hang as long as you’d like?
Yes – the hang time were about a month longer than usual
3. Were yields up, down, average or otherwise significant?
For most wineries the yields were down. Margerum Wine Company and Happy Canyon Vineyards were exceptions – apart from Pinot Gris were produced as much or more than the last couple of years – we did not have frost issues.
Were there any varieties that stand out?
The tiny berry size, the long hang time and the intensity of the fruit is leading me to believe it could be an outstanding vintage. The Sauvignon Blanc this year is off the charts good. Nothing under ripe and nothing overripe. Stunning intensity and rich mouth feel already at this young stage.
The Syrahs are dark and black. During the Syrah fermentation the winery smelled liked bittersweet chocolate. We’ve just started harvesting the Bordeaux varietal reds today. Still – nice ripe fruit with low sugar and good acidity.
4. Any early assessment about the character of the wines?
Lean, age worthy. Concentrated, powerful, structured, and varietal characteristics very clear due to no overripe fruit.
Will they be concentrated, exhibit any particular flavors or structure?
Any varietals that stick out?
5. How would you compare the harvest to 2010 or other recent years?
Very similar to 2007 were the grapes were the stars and the winemakers just needed to guide them through the process with little intervention. Great balance.