Final Harvest Update from Winemaker Nate Weis
In 2015, California endured its fourth year of drought. This phenomenon is in large part a municipal issue with groundwater in the North Coast mostly unaffected. Soil profiles were mostly full at the start of the season once again due to some February storms. Grapegrowers may not be getting a lot of precipitation, but we’ve been lucky enough to get it at critical times during the drought.
The early portion of winter was remarkably warm, leading to an early budbreak and start to the growing season, very much like 2014. As early as budbreak was, however, the weather pattern soon changed and early-season weather was cool and relatively wet. April and May in the North Coast were cold, with many highs in the 60s and very few in the 80s, and we saw a couple of inches of rain in this critical bloom period. The drawn-out and slow bloom period and years of drought led to decreased yield potential throughout the state. June saw two short heatwaves with temperatures approaching triple digits, and then, curiously, snow fell in Yosemite in early July when an arctic cold front moved quickly through California.
Late July through to October saw seasonal weather with a number of short heat events. More unseasonably, there was a period in early September of eight consecutive days above 95 degrees. The heat hastened harvest and 2015 wound up being the earliest in anyone’s memory. We began picking Cabernet Sauvignon on August 19th and finished on October 1st.
2015 will be remembered as a warm, early and small vintage, much like 2008 or 2004. Fans of Silver Oak will remember those as particularly good vintages in both the Napa and Alexander Valleys, boding well for the development of this year’s blends. What we had to work with was top-notch raw material, albeit much less than we might have liked.
October 19, 2015