2002 will be noted for being a labor-intensive, low-yield year in the vineyard, with the ensuing wines being aromatic, robust, and complex, reminding us of 1994. Vines at the Spottswoode Estate pushed early, due to the relatively mild temperatures and the low rainfall we experienced in February. Thus, a protracted bloom period began somewhat early, in May, resulting in an above-average set with variable ripeness. Facing the prospect of an early harvest, we green thinned a bit later than our norm to delay fruit maturation. Green thinning is a process whereby green grape clusters are dropped on the ground to decrease the crop load. Post veraison we embarked on yet another fruit-thinning campaign to achieve a balance of crop size and color. It seems we doubled our efforts at every juncture, making multiple row passes, in the quest to produce the most flavorful grapes and, ultimately, wine.
Persistently warm weather in mid-September sped up the projected picking dates. We again thinned aggressively—to say each and every cluster was “hand groomed” would not be an exaggeration! The effort of our vineyard crew was nothing short of phenomenal, and they truly do deserve the “lead article” and the accolades for the vintage. As of the writing of this article all wines are pressed and to barrel, and we are beginning to see the promise of our vineyard diligence. Many thanks are due to Jose Luis, Pepe, Trino, David Abreu and his crew, and Jennifer Williams, our harvest intern, for all of their efforts.
—Rosemary Cakebread, Winemaker