February 6, 2018 § Leave a comment
The 2017 vintage was the most emotional vintage that I have had yet. We were blessed in the winter with an above average rainfall and the moisture content of the soil was excellent. On Father’s Day weekend, we saw our first significant heat wave. It got up to 109 around Sonoma County, which is unusual particularly for that time of the year. Our second heat wave of the year really hit us at a tough time of the year, right before harvest, and set records for the hottest day ever in the Bay Area. Luckily, our vines had an exceptional winter and spring rainfalls, and they were surprisingly resilient. The temperatures reached 115 degrees, and the grape clusters had some dehydration and raisining, but the weather cooled off and we saw a pretty big drop in sugars. I have talked to other winemakers and it was as big of a drop in sugar that they had seen after heat.
I woke up on that Monday morning of October 9th, and immediately smelled something smokey. I had bbq’ed the evening prior, so I thought that I must have left the grill on. As I looked outside it was apparent that Santa Rosa was on FIRE! That event would mark the rest of the vintage and really make it emotional to finish harvest with our head high and continue making our wines. Our fruit was spared from any smoke taint, and the only thing that was still out was our Cab. The days following at the winery were quite eerie. During a time of year that has been usually our most busy, we saw no one for almost two weeks. As we were continuing to work on our wines that were in the winery, we would get text messages coming in from the Sonoma County alert system telling us that our neighborhoods were being evacuated. I felt bad to have our guys there making wines as the fate of their homes were up in the air. We brought our last grapes of the year in on October 12th, and were surprised at the impeccable condition of the fruit.
As I continue to taste these 2017 wines, the old quote, “Through adversity builds character,” comes to mind. I do not think that the results of the fires, or for that matter, the extreme heat, will be a key factor in the quality of the wines to come. Sonoma County will never forget the 2017 vintage, and I think that it brought this community together in a way that only tragedy can. #SonomaStrong