It seems that 2016 is one of those years for reflection and introspection. Most people I’ve talked to are ready for 2016 to leave and will welcome 2017 with open arms. With such uncertainty in the world right now, sometimes it’s difficult stay focused on the daily chores. But as always, each challenging era has incredible opportunities.
As I focus on my own small world of winemaking and grapegrowing, the 2016 vintage is one of those opportunities. I reflect back onto this growing year and harvest, and my mind wanders into how perfect the season was. With some amount of rain in the spring, the vines grew vigorously compared to much of what we’ve seen over the past few years. The crop load was reasonable, especially compared to the previous year. Temperatures were moderate throughout the summer, and harvest started just about right on time.
The blessing was that, unlike the previous three years, the fall temperatures (due to the later start date) were cooler. This translated to an expansion of the harvest, with a full six weeks of picking (rather than three). From a logistics point of view, we had more tanks available for fruit and the ability to tweak the fermentation times of the wines. Truly, a longer harvest gives us a chance to think!
What I realized from this “extra” time is that we as a winemaking team (Tim, Ryan, John and myself) had found more energy to have some fun. The number of interesting trials and minute changes makes our jobs more interesting, thus making….what you’re really interested in….more incredible wines!
We can walk through the cellar and pick any barrel of the 2016 vintage, and I just get excited about what we are tasting. The intensity of fruit, the richness on the palate, the incredible color, and complexity of characters keeps bringing me joy, wine after wine.
My favorite today will change tomorrow, but the essence of the varieties we grow seems to have really expressed itself well this year. Although we’ve already bottled the 2016 Fiore, Barbera Rosé, Gewürztraminer, Signature Dry Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Grenache Rosé, I expect each wine (whether bottled or in barrel) will continue to mature into wines of distinction. And I can’t say that of every wine from every vintage.
On a side note, we did pick our first harvest of the Rucksack vineyards with a bit of Chenin Blanc and a bunch of Cabernet Franc. Both are exceeding expectations off the first harvest. I’d love to take some sort of credit for this, but truly I think we were given an exceptional year to start our new adventure.
So I guess what I’m saying is that, at least for me, when times get distressing or overwhelming, I look locally to what we all have. A sip of the 2016 vintage sets my mind to what is good in the world, refreshing my spirit for another day. And with this I welcome 2017, hoping for a better world with goodness and kindness for all.