Friday, October 29, 2010

State of the Grapes for 2010

There seems to be one common word being used to describe the 2010 vintage by the local growers, vineyard managers, property managers, winemakers and most anyone closely associated with the wine industry - "CHALLENGING".

It has been the perfect storm of weather miscues that has led to many people scrambling to figure out what to do with the grapes still on the vine. And, we just got hit with another weather front of cold & rain that pretty much puts the proverbial "!" stamp on this year.

First we had the coolest summer in over 20 years (uhem, thanks to, uh, Global Warming...). Veraison was VERY late and led to some problems with unbalanced ripening. We had heat spikes at all the wrong times and at improper intervals. Then just not enough heat overall. With "harvest" running 3-4 weeks behind, all we could hope for was 'NO RAIN!' Then, in October...we've had three bouts of rain so far, two heavy, that really put the grapes in peril. Brix really never got to where they needed to be. This will equate in to a lower alcohol year...and that's necessarily a bad thing!

Many have been equating this to a "Bordeaux-style" year. That being said, I've talked to a lot winemakers that are actually excited at the prospect of making a leaner style of wine that will require all their skills. The talented producers have accepted the 'challenge' of the vintage and will still be making exceptional wines...just different than the typical California perfect weather season.

I was talking to an associate about this vintage and we've decided to review the wines down the road based on two key factors - those that picked BEFORE the rains and those that picked AFTER. We've made our notes on who did what/when and even have a few individual vineyards picked out that were picked at both intervals. It will very interesting to see who does what with this "challenging vintage".

All in all, good winemakers will still make good wines. Those that depend on the commercial gathering up of fully ripe grapes en-masse, will struggle. Overall yields will be low (a lot crop was dropped due to the conditions), but the quality could actually shine in certain respects with the grapes being on the vine for so long. Only time will tell. And, as most in the industry know, time is often so crucial and valuable because we will not know what this vintage will truly display until 2012 at the earliest...ahhh, the realities of the wine business.

Until the next sip, swirl ya' later!


Chief Wino

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