The 2013 growing season went into the books as the driest year on record. Though the soils began with a good amount of moisture due to rains in December of 2012, spring brought very little precipitation. Budbreak occurred a little later than in an average year, and a dry, warm, late spring quickly moved the vines towards bloom, which actually arrived earlier than normal. These warm, dry conditions contributed to a very healthy flowering and fruit set. While the berry numbers per cluster were high, the lack of water restrained the plants, making canopy growth less vigorous and keeping the berries smaller than in 2012.
Following bloom, we had five separate heat spells exceeding 100°F. With the overall warmth of this period, the vines progressed quickly toward veraison, the period when the grapes soften and change color. Because the canopies were healthy and the berries were still green and photosynthetic during these periods of heat, the vines were not adversely affected. Mid-June delivered a welcome surprise, with a light rain that brought relief to the vines at just the right time.
Mother Nature surprised us again as we entered the ripening period by delivering lovely, moderate weather. As we approached harvest, sugars were still accumulating a touch faster than the fruit flavors were developing, but the differential wasn’t extreme and with healthy, protective canopies and sound irrigation practices, we achieved the ripeness we were looking for and still found balance in this warm, dry year.
Harvest 2013 was slightly early. A small rain event in the middle of harvest brought just enough water to wet the dirt, and allowed both the vines and the crew a few days respite. Harvest continued more peacefully with renewed energy, and all of our fruit arrived at the winery in pristine condition with exceptional overall quality. We brought in the last of our estate fruit on September 27.
—Aron Weinkauf, Winemaker