After rough growing seasons in 2010 and 2011, we've had back-to-back fantastic years in 2012 and now 2013.
The year started out on the fast track with late spring rain followed by perfect 85 degree weather for 2 weeks, and everyone in Sonoma County predicted an early harvest because we seemed so far ahead of schedule.
In fact, in the early part of the summer we saw more vegetative growth than we've ever seen before, with lots of rapid leaf and shoot development. We were seeing shoots that grew to 6 feet tall in a matter of a few short weeks! The late spring rain really kickstarted the growth cycle with a burst.
Then we enjoyed moderately warm weather with no heat spikes in June and July, which is really ideal weather for ripening and flavor development, but as summer progressed the weather was a little cooler than expected. After some hazy mornings and a thick marine layer for the first two weeks of August, what looked for certain to be an early harvest at the beginning of the season was turning into a more traditional year as the weeks went by.
Late August and most of September featured an abundance of beautiful growing days with lots of moderate sunshine -- aside from a few intermitent rainy days, but fortunately this was the exception and we saw virtually no signs of mildew. The nice warm finish to summer helped to ripen everything at a relatively slow, even pace. This is great news for the flavors, but what was really unusual is how all the different varietals in Sonoma County were coming off the vine at the same time. Typically Chardonnay is picked weeks or even a month before Cabernet, but in this growing season we saw growers picking these grapes on the same day. Truly unusual.
The biggest surprise of all was the crop load. After historic yields in 2012 you would expect the vines to take a year off and have a reduced production level, but just the opposite occurred. Sonoma County is estimating 3-5% more grapes this year, and we're in line with that as well at Collier Falls with a slight bump in our yield. Two consecutive huge harvests like this are really unheard of.
But most importantly, the quality is there too. After tasting the wines from 2012 and 2013, it's hard to tell which vintage to be more excited about! It's certainly great news for wine lovers and fans of Collier Falls. Hope you qualify in both categories!