The vineyard is alive with 2016 growth and finger’s crossed, moderate weather will prevail through spring.
The early, fragile stages of growth are the riskiest of the year. On the Central Coast, climactic events early in the season often define the vintage profile more profoundly than harvest-time heat spikes and storms.
Hoping for Better Luck
It’s easy to suspect California’s well-publicized drought as the culprit behind the reduced yields of 2015. While the drought certainly didn’t help; the cold, blustery conditions during “flowering” caused the lion’s share of damage to last year’s crop.
Each year in late February and Early March, the vines wake up with bud-break, first with tiny green bubbles of life, and then with small leaves and buds. Into April, frost is our main concern as freezing temperatures will kill the small, fragile growth in one cold night.
Later in April and into May, the danger of frost begins to recede. However, as the buds bloom, producing the flowers that will become actual grapes; we fret about high winds. In the wind tunnel we call Ballard Canyon, gusts can blow flowers right off the bud – eliminating potential grapes – an effect we call shatter.
Once the flowers “set” into tiny grapes in May, the vines are off to the races – growing quickly through the early summer. With further growth comes strength and resilience.
Moderate years like 2012 and 2014 with healthy crops produce pleasantly delicious and approachable wines. Extreme years like 2008, 2011, and 2015 with light crops produce brawn and intensity – usually necessitating more time in bottle to soften and integrate.