This marks my thirtieth vintage at a commercial winery. It seems like a larger number than it feels, but I did the math three times and got the same answer, so it must be true. The thinning of the hair on top as well as the increasing gray in what remains provides supporting evidence of this. Fortunately, these years of experience made 2008 a fairly easy vintage to deal with those curve balls that nature threw in this year.
First there was the spring frost(s), which reduced the amount of crop in certain areas and increased the variation between each clusters’ ripeness. Our antidote: My wooden sorting table and experienced (thank God) crew helped deal with whatever the fantastic growers I work with had not removed already. Then, there was unfavorable weather at bloom, further decreasing crop levels (nothing to be done about that, but acceptance has utility for maintaining ones’ focus). Finally, there was a two-week-plus heat spell just as the earliest sites/varieties were nearly finished ripening and were most fragile to heat and dryness. 2004 was the most recent vintage to remind us about that, so without a foggy period on the horizon, waiting was not in the cards. In the end, it was a good vintage to be prepared for anything and to be physically ready from a human as well as facility standpoint. Yields, however, felt like a drop in the bucket. Happily, not every vintage has had tiny yields and it takes several years to complete a wine for consumption. We are now releasing several wines from 2005 and 2006 as well as digging into the library once again to illustrate the development that our wines can achieve.
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