2019 Winter Newsletter
I’m not sure of the originations of this term, but we have come to know that it means an abundant crop and yes....2018 produced an abundant crop! That is fantastic news all around, it is great for the growers, great for the winery and most importantly, good news for the consumer. Not only was the crop sizable, it was extremely good quality as well.
The growing season was very moderate, no big rain storms or heat spells, and the harvest period was, if anything, a little later than the norm. It certainly was a lot later than the past few years, which I love a harvest to be spread out over time, giving us the opportunity to selectively pick at the peak of ripeness. Along with the long harvest, comes a great deal of hang time where the grapes are ripening slowly, developing fantastic color and flavors.
Now that the 2018 vintage has been put to bed, (i.e. barrels), we are actively pumping out barrels of the 2016 vintage to get ready to bottle. With one eye on our tentative blends, we taste every barrel before it is pumped, to make sure the quality is there. The barrels are pumped into tanks where they will be tasted and analyzed, from there the tanks will be pumped, combining lots to make up our respective blends. One of the aspects of winemaking that I love is the seasonality, and the winter time is the season for barrel work and blending for spring time bottling. While the winery is busy with barrel work, the vineyards are preparing for the new growing season of 2019.
You might think the Napa Valley looks a little sleepy in the winter, but if you look closely the vineyard workers are quite active pruning the vines. They prune selectively, to decrease the amount of vigor in the vine, to make certain the new shoots are designed for the trellis system, and to support the balance of crop vs new shoot canopy. There is really quite an art to pruning...as well as science.
The new release to the wine club is very exciting, all from the 2015 vintage. As the name suggests, the Stagecoach Merlot is sourced from the famed Stagecoach vineyard in the Atlas Peak AVA of the Napa Valley. Located to the northeast of the City of Napa, the vineyard sits at roughly 1500 feet elevation, carved out of ancient volcanic rocky terrain that was home to sagebrush, old oaks and manzanita. It is a harsh environment that causes the vines to struggle, producing small berries with intense flavors...I swear I can taste some sage spice in that Merlot. The Cabernet Bosché is located on the famed Rutherford Bench, an alluvial fan on the west side of Rutherford, another sweet spot for growing Cabernet Sauvignon grapes producing wine that is elegant with dark cherry flavors. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford AVA, is a fantastic blend where we took some of the Bosché barrels, and blended with some Sycamore barrels, also located on the west side of Rutherford. In addition, we added some Red Barn Petit Verdot barrels. The Red Barn vineyard is located on an ancient creek bed that was once traversed by Conn Creek....centuries ago. The Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is just that, a mountain cab with all the characteristics of a mountain cab...loaded with dark fruit, forest floor complexity and a firm structure.