2013 Harvest Wrap Up

The fruit is picked, the grapes are pressed and now it’s time to reflect on the 2013 harvest!  This year harvest spanned 2.5 months and we brought in  1,778 tons for the Laetitia and NADIA brands.  Harvest is both an exciting and nerve-wrecking time.  While we were anxious to see what the fruit tasted like, we were simultaneously watching brix and acid levels to be sure that all grape varieties were brought in at the perfect time. (And it isn’t uncommon for many varieties to ripen at the same time!)

Of course everything starts in the vineyard, and this growing season was a pretty optimal one.  We had our classic Indian summer which ran through September and October and actually brought along higher temperatures than we saw in the summertime.  This meant we had a nice, long, unpressured growing season, which in turn, translated into nice tannin, slow ripening and good concentration in our fruit.  We were walking a fine line between too warm of a growing season (which results in damage) and too cool a growing season, which can drag on for what seems like forever.  Luckily we were smack dab in between those two extremes, leaving us at a comfortable, moderate growing pace, with warm temperatures that weren’t dominated by the marine layer.  Most notable this year was our warmer post-veraison periods which provided a relaxed transition from berry growth to berry ripening.   At Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, thanks to the high elevation of this site, we were buffered from extreme temperatures lending nice, moderate day highs with cool nights that preserved the grapes acidity, color intensity and fruit flavors.

Back in the cellar, the glaring difference in this year’s fruit was the weight.  We had similar clusters per vine as previous years, but the fruit this year simply weighed more.  Sometimes we get concerned about the quality of the wines in years with crops this size, but once the tanks were drained and the wine was tasted, our concerns were put to rest.  The wines (although still in a very early stage) show beautiful richness, sound acidity and great tannin structure, similar to those of 2009.  Although tank space was sparse this year, and blocks were stacked up on top of each other (all coming in at the same time), we somehow pulled it off and are really happy with the quality.  As we park our tractors and hang up our picking bins, the grapevines are now defoliating and are preparing to head into dormancy (while our vineyard and cellar teams are doing the same).  Be on the lookout for the first 2013’s to come out spring of next year!

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