The spring and summer last year were much cooler than normal for the Rogue Valley. This tended to be the case for the rest of Oregon, Washington and California as well. Our vineyard is affected greatly by the weather trends, and the cool spring put the schedule for the growth of our grapes behind by about two to three weeks—much later than what we typically see each year. The peak of our harvest is in October and the two to three week delay last year had us nervous and wondering how the weather would cooperate for us. As the temperature drops and the fall rain starts, these will also affect our vineyard. Rain lowers the sugar content of a grape, resulting in watery, bland flavors.
October 2011 was one of the best Octobers we’ve seen in many years. While the rest of Oregon and Washington were buffeted by difficult weather, our days here in the Rogue Valley remained sunny and warm. We were able to leave the grapes on the vines until the flavors and sugars were just what we wanted. Timing the grape harvest is always a delicate dance. Even though we were picking two weeks late, the October weather allowed us this latitude to wait so that our flavors were able to mature and our grapes had the intense fruit flavor that we expect.
On a recent trip to California our staff heard many stories about the 2011 weather and harvest in Napa and Sonoma. In some cases there were vineyards that dropped 100% of their fruit because they were not able to get their grapes mature enough to harvest. We feel so lucky to have the season that we did last year. We have just finished barrel tasting our 2011 wines, and we are very pleased with the results. The flavors are concentrated and intense and the quality is impressive. The 2011 vintage is well on its way to being a classic.