Path to Upper Bowl
Growing Season and Harvest, 2014
The 2014 season started off with a dry, mild winter and spring. Our first significant rains didn’t come until February and March, and the precipitation disappeared in April and May. Summer was warm with only a few short heat spikes in June and July. Grapes were developing quickly though, and by the end of July all bets were on for an early start date for harvest: sometime within the 3rd or 4th week of August. August cooled off though. Daytime highs stuck in the 70’s and we experienced more summertime fog on the hillside than I can remember. Maybe this was a good thing though; the grape clusters were already ahead of schedule and the cool temperatures slowed things down a bit, allowing the clusters to ripen more evenly.
The Labor Day holiday weekend warmed up and by September 3rd, harvest had begun. Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel from the “Point” block were the first grapes to be harvested. Chardonnay was close behind. Over the course of three days we picked record breaking tonnage off the dry farmed (zero irrigation) Chardonnay vineyard. Merlot from the Mailbox Vineyard was next, and again, we received record yields from a dry farmed vineyard. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc followed the Merlot, and by September 23rd we had wrapped up harvest for all but a few tons of estate grapes.
The heavy yields made us wonder if intensity and concentration in the wines would be compromised, but near perfect September temperatures allowed the vineyard blocks to ripen to perfection. We noticed minimal shriveling on the clusters and the flavors in the maturing berries were unmatched. Samples from the fermenting tanks of Cabernet and Merlot showed mild tannin, focused flavors and dark, inky hues. The Chardonnay barrel samples are showing powerful citrus and ripe pear aromas and great acidity.
The 2014 wines need some barrel age and are a ways off from release, but keep your eye on these wines.