Where’s Roy Orbison? It’s over! After a much too eventful growing season, suddenly it’s over (It probably doesn’t seem sudden to all those crushpad workers who haven’t had a weekend off since August)!
We crushed the last load, some Carneros Syrah, on October 8 and pressed it Friday, the 17th, so Geoff Gorsuch, our Winemaker, can actually, realistically, envision having a life once again.
Of course the big news is the crop yield, or lack thereof. The crop isn’t all in yet, but preliminary estimates are that the valley, as a whole, is down about 10% from “normal”. Vineyard managers in the thick of it think that’s a rather conservative estimate. The Howell Mountain area seems to be the hardest hit with growers reporting being down in excess of 50% in some cases and other areas report nearly normal yields. Our home vinyard, here at the winery, was down about 30% and our Howell Mountain Cab came in at about 1/2 of normal.
The biggest reason for the light crop was spring frost – the worst since 1972 (for more on the perils of frost check this out). For those who came through the frost pretty well, there was some ca-ca weather during flowering in May – a heat wave accompanied by high wind followed by rainfall – a good recipe for fouling up pollination.
Another factor, which is a mixed blessing, is that we didn’t exactly have a drought, but the vines are acting as if they think we did and produced such cute, tiny little grapes. Usually our Cabernet looks like small blueberries. This year it looked more like oversized, purple peas. The blessing part is the increased skin to juice ratio – the juice is mainly water – so we’re pretty much guaranteed good intensity in the color and flavor department. Of course the light cluster weights doesn’t help us in terms of yield.
If you check our harvest calendar, you’ll see that early September was hot and heavy with a number of sites ready for harvest almost simultaneously. By mid-month the paceÂ cooled down with the weather and the rest of the crush was nicely paced.
It looks like the Napa Valley harvest will be pretty much over by the end of the month. That’s unusual, but this has been an unusual year, hasn’t it? Bottom line – beautiful fruit, just not enough of it so when the 2008s come out better snap them up before they’re gone!