2014 was another very good growing season here at Spottswoode. We saw warm, and generally very dry, weather here in Napa Valley. While a lack of significant early season rain in December and January was a cause for concern, Mother Nature provided some much-needed rain beginning in early February, with our Spottswoode Estate Vineyard receiving a total of 17.5” between February 9th and April 30th. This well-timed precipitation supported the growth of strong, vigorous vines, and in some ways was almost more at that stage than the vines actually needed. To ensure balance, we worked to moderate vine growth at this time.
As part of our overall efforts to moderate crop size, our use of cover crops was an effective tool in helping to limit yields in our vineyard. Planted between the vine rows of our organically certified vineyard, these cover crops competed with the vines, naturally limiting early season vegetative growth, ensuring proper sun exposure and helping restrain early berry size. By limiting early season growth we encouraged more balanced vines that would place less demand on our water later in the season.
The weather in 2014 was warm, yet moderate. While consistently warm, it was also steady and very manageable from a viticultural and ripening standpoint. We had very few high heat events after veraison, and in general we enjoyed a beautiful ripening period.
All of these factors resulted in a very early harvest, beginning with our Sauvignon Blanc on August 19th, and our Cabernet Sauvignon beginning on September 5th. Harvest was quite compressed, with all of our grapes in the winery by the third week of September. Fortunately, we had invested in some new equipment. Our destemmer, vibrating shaker table and four-camera optical sorting system were in place, allowing us to keep up with the fast-paced harvest, and ensuring only the most pristine fruit was used in the winery.
The wines of 2014 appear to be very good and very present in their youth. They developed beautifully in the fermenter, showing impeccable balance, excellent weight and density, and lovely overall harmony. It will be a beautiful vintage that is neither heavy nor lacking, ripe but not overripe, warm and enticing, and layered and dynamic with nuance and character.
—Aron Weinkauf, Winemaker