Learn How 2016’s Winter Rainfall Affected Our Vineyards, In A Good Way – Keenan Winery
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Learn How 2016’s Winter Rainfall Affected Our Vineyards, In A Good Way

Rains and vines: how rainfall of winter affects vineyards

Increased winter rainfall along with optimal spring and summer weather conditions were much appreciated this year. The vines soaked up rain, and favorable springtime temperatures supported healthy flowering and set. Merlot and Zinfandel yields were significantly above average, while Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon yields were only slightly above average. The 2016 harvest was a fast one though; over the course of 21 days we picked the entire Keenan estate. Our estate harvest usually lasts four to six weeks. This specific 2016 rainfall from winter affects vineyards in a good way, and we greatly benefited from it’s longer duration.

Clone 4 Chardonnay and Dijon Clone Chardonnay: Rich and flavorful

Keenan’s harvest began with Clone 4 Chardonnay on September 6th and Dijon Clone Chardonnay on September 7th. The Chardonnay flavors developed early this, yet the juice samples revealed relatively low sugar content. Now aging in barrel, the ’16 Chardonnay exhibits great acidity and wonderful rich flavors and texture.

Mailbox Merlot: 40% harvested in one week

The Merlot from the Lower Bowl and Mailbox Vineyard ripened right on the heels of the Chardonnay and supplied above average yields. The Merlot fermenting in tanks revealed bright, juicy flavors, while tannins were mild and aromatics intense.  We finished picking the Lower Merlot on September 12th.  Within one week we had harvested over forty percent of the 2016 estate tonnage!

Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon: Surprising early ripening

Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon were our next focus. The old half-acre Zinfandel block took us by surprise and ripened much earlier than usual. Cabernet Sauvignon form the Point and Upper Bowl vineyards were next in line. The Cabernet Sauvignon is showing amazing concentration with lush powdery tannins.

Cabernet Franc: Fermenting in tanks peacefully

By September 21st our last blocks of Merlot and most of the Cabernet Franc had been harvested, and all of our fermentation tanks were full. Only a few blocks on the estate remained, and by September 26th our harvest on Spring Mountain was finished.

Keenan Winery: Graceful aging in the Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District, estate vineyards

It’s enlightening to see these hillside vineyards age so gracefully. The majority of vines on the Keenan estate no longer require irrigation, yet the vineyards are maintaining yields and producing the some of finest fruit to date.

Cheers to the 2016 vintage!

Matt Gardner

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