After two fairly cool years, we have experienced more summer days over 90 degrees than in the previous 50 years. This heat and low winter rainfall have challenged our viticulture in Amador County. Dry farmed vineyards are ripening up faster than we expected, drip irrigation vineyards have been playing catch-up, and our winemaking staff is trying to stay ahead of “Grapeaggedon”. This is when every vineyard is ripe on the exact same day, and everybody wants to pick grapes. Cool vintages give a more even ripening and a slower pace. The warmer ones may ripen faster, resulting in a harvest pace that does not allow for much sleep. So far, the white grapes Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, and our troika of V’s - Verdelho, Vermentino and Viognier – have crossed the scales. The only red grapes from received Amador have been Syrah, a typically early ripening varietal, and Zinfandel from some really warm sites. From a cooler, but early bud break site, we have received Mourvedre and Zinfandel from Contra Costa County. This heat has also moved Barbera ahead of its normal last place finish in the race of grapes and we may harvest some earlier than some lots of Zinfandel. So far, we are happy with the flavors, and the sugar levels are not as high, so in our minds that is a “win-win”. Stay tuned for faster paced action from Renwood!
Consulting Winemaker Jeff Cohn added, “What a difference a year makes! This time last year it was cold a touch wet, but this year the sun is out and the temperatures have been perfect allowing for the development of complexity and flavors. In the end this should prove to be an amazing vintage.”