Heavy set Cabernet prior to harvest 2014 Sierra inspecting Pinot Noir
Dateline: October 22, 2014
Vintage 2014 Post Harvest Vineyard Report
Vintage 2014 harvest started earlier than normal as a result of record drought this year following two years of below normal rainfall. With low reservoirs, restrictions on pumping, and low water tables, most vineyards were prone to stress and concentration of sugars were accumulating faster than normal. Some wineries started picking in late July for sparkling wine which normally precedes the harvest of still wines by 3-4 weeks. Expectations were that this 2014 crop would be lighter not only because of drought but also because it followed the bountiful harvests of 2012 & 2013. In spite of some lower predictions, there was however a good berry count on both OUR vineyards. We had a light rain in April which gave vines a boost, no frost and ideal weather during bloom. We had kept our 3 pumps busy starting in January with frequent light drip irrigation to avoid heavy stress to vine surface roots. The old vine dry farmed zinfandel vines however were a concern and we initiated an aggressive early tillage program to create a loose surface tilth that insulated the soil and conserved moisture. Weather during the summer was moderate with temperatures below normal highs. The real savior was August where temperatures in the high 90s and triple digit 100's that could normally be expected never developed. Quite the opposite was realized as August was heavy with overcast and late breaking fog for the entire month. This was just what the doctor ordered as it plumed up the berries, delayed the rapid gain in sugars and reduced the pick dates from 3 weeks early to about near normal. The quality of the fruit was excellent with good sugar, ripe flavors, clean sound fruit, and a minimum of shrivel and dehydration. We picked our last grape on September 26, 8 days ahead of last year. Good weather continued after the 1st crop was harvested. We had an abundant 2nd crop that developed on the Zinfandel and as an added bonus we found a buyer and picked over 9 tons of 2nd crop Zinfandel on 10/17 which brought our production up 5% over last year's record crop. The final crop report for Sonoma County will not be out for awhile but it is apparent all growers did not fair as well. It was a very good vineyard year for us and we were extremely fortunate to have such production with excellent quality.
Now we must go into our rain dance as we have had only .80 inches since July 1st. Predictions for an El Nino winter which would bring above normal precipitation have softened a bit so we will have to patiently wait to see what Mother Nature will deliver. It is not only us grapegrowers that need the water, the entire state of California is in desperate need.
Vintage 2014 Post Harvest Winery Report
This year we decided to make another Paradiso Rose wine as we don't always make a Rose. Rose wines, however, are now more popular as winedrinkers, like the French, have discovered the pleasures of this wine with lighter meals and seafood. We also needed badly and made a 2014 Chardonnay. Our last vintage Chardonnay was in 2011 and our barrel ferment style in neutral oak with partial ML is gaining in popularity. All of our estate produced 2014 wines were complete with fermentation, pressed out and pumped to tanks for ML inocculation and settling by October 3rd. Because of the early harvest, by mid October all wines had been separated from their gross lees and transfered to barrels to begin the long process of aging. I predict the superb quality of the 2014 harvest fruit has the potential for a vintage of excellence. By Spring of 2015 these young wines should show good balanced, strong aromatics, rich color and pronounce flavors.
Mike Forchini processing Zinfandel on the incline sorting table
New releases of 2012 Zinfandel and 2011 BeauSierra were made in August and 2012 Papa Nonno and 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon were released in September. The 012 Zin at 14.8% is selling out fast as it is fruity, well balanced and a delicious to drink with meals by contrast with heavier fruit forward high alcohol Zins that are a meal in themselves. My fear is this 012 Zin will be gone before our next bottling of the 013 Zin in August 2015. Our two proprietary red blends, Tuscan style Papa Nonno and Bordeaux Blend BeauSierra, continue to score well in major competitions. Papa Nonno scored 95 points in the North Coast Wine Challenge against wines from Napa, Sonoma, Lake & Mendocino counties, garnered a gold medal at the 2014 Sonoma County Professional Harvest Awards and the 2011 BeauSierra has won three gold medals to date. We are near depletion on our Double Gold 2010 Pinot (42cs) and our crisp fruity 2011 Chardonnay(7cs) . These wines would be excellent for your Thanksgiving table when paired with turkey preceded by a fancy salad. Hurry if you want these wines for Thanksgiving. Our October club shipment included a pre-release of our 2011 Pinot. I am very excited about this 011 Pinot because of its intense perfume, elegant gracious structure and deep lingering flavors. Our new 011 Cabernet has won a Silver in the San Francisco International Wine Competition and comes Highly Recommended from the Ultimate Wine Challenge in New York. I expect this wine will soon garner some Golds as it is excellent in balance and structure and will pair well with your Holiday meals. Keep in mind the bad weather that can delay shipments around the holidays so it is best to order now to insure delivery.
The October Club selections have been shipped and Will Call members may pick up their wines in the Tasting Room either by appointment mid week or FRI-SU 11-4:30pm. We still have a large number of Futures that have not been picked up from 2013 & 2014. These wines will be great for the Holidays so we hope you can make arrangements to pick up or have shipped soon.
Stay tuned to this website and our Facebook link to get news on all our events, awards, and activities. Cheers!
Editor: Jim Forchini