Gruner Veltliner came off Wind Ridge Vineyard today, the last block to be picked. We had lovely weather for four days, to finish, especially, the Riesling in grand fashion. With 15-20% botrytis at Corral Creek, higher sugars from Stoller and amazing acids and initial peak flavors from Wind Ridge and Ridgecrest (perfect for Sext), 2010 Riesling will be interesting and quite good. It like all wines from 2010 will be low in alcohol, a blessing in many people’s minds.

I would characterize this vintage as one of the extremes that Global Climate Change provides. Not being about warming only, our planet is expected to see a roller coaster of conditions, with general climate conditions warm. Ours this year was unnatural: very early warmth at bud break stage, cool and wet Springtime weather stopping action in its tracks; a cool growing season with the least heat we’ve seen in this 40 year industry; followed by a ripening that was Indian Summer-like for awhile, then bringing a preview of a wet winter to a two-week late harvest. October’s rain of 5 inches even puts 2010 in the 9% wettest Octobers of the last 100 years, with average rain being 3.15 inches for the month historically.

Weather be damned, however. Early rain in the month served to move nutrients in the vine, a requirement in late season metabolism. Almost half of our fruit didn’t see any rain afterwards and three-quarters saw only 2 1/2 inches of rain, all of those vines mature vines 15-29 years of age–where deep roots protect vines from most rains. We did see some botrytis in dense Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blocks, so sorting in the field and in winery was called on. We waited for flavor development and a drop of acid/pH brightness before harvest. It seems so far to have worked well, since colors are deeply saturated in some blocks, flavors are good and slightly low sugars are making for predictable ferments and low alcohol. We have chaptalized to a minor degree, but will have enough sugar left from a pallet we bought in the summer to sweeten our coffee for many months.

Since this is such an unusual vintage, we don’t know yet how to predict the ultimate quality of wines, with very low pHs and higher acids and lower alcohols promising a great, long-lived, balanced wine based on principles. But no matter how we might have wished for a vintage like this, we haven’t seen one until 2010, so the proof of the pudding will be in the tasting. Stay tuned. And wine writers should stay away from predictions based on weather and strangeness of vintage–come visit the cellars.

Ah, always learning.


Weather So Far And Today

Today and the prior 3 days were gorgeous, getting into the 70s even, and being brightly sunny and dry. ; The prior eleven days had some moisture, totalling 4.2 inches.

Of the harvest we brought in, with our philosophy that rain is not a problem–unflavorful and underripe fruit IS, 43% saw no rain at all in final ripening; 74% saw 2.5 inches, but exclusively older, mature, deep-rooted vines; the remainder was higher elevation, always late harvested fruit from some Ridgecrest blocks and white varieties (mainly Riesling) that always need long hangtime.

Heat units total 1855 through November 4th, the lowest we have seen in decades

Harvest To-Date

247 tons
(74% of forecast)
Pinot Noir:
120 tons
(75% of forecast)
Pinot Gris:
39 tons
(74% of forecast)
59 tons
(86% of forecast)
Gruner veltliner:
3.5 tons
(142% of forecast)
Riesling: 17 tons
(74% of forecast)
Gamay noir:
2.7 tons
(93% of forecast)