Mixing it up
One of the things I love about Sonoma County is the complexity created by the wrinkled nature of our landscape with its myriad of soil pockets and differing effects of the Pacific Ocean fog. In a given vintage, even in a relatively small vineyard the size of my Dad’s, the same variety can express itself quite differently. This gives me the opportunity to combine like–minded elements to echo, harmonize and to draw out personality traits that are unique to the region if not to the specific site…or perhaps draw them out into multiple distinct pictures if that seems the best end. Sometimes this happens within one property, but often the best results arise with a combination of sites. Mixing it up to some degree is often exactly what it takes to bring out the best expression of an area.
Some vintages may have more local consistency, but due to larger scale weather events like heat or rain that affect the general area, we greatly benefit from having a broader canvas to work with. The 2011 vintage was a great example of this. The vineyards that ripened normally before the rains made lovely, typical wines. Our Zinfandels, Chardonnays and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir fall into this category. Those sites that ripen later in the season made really nice but rather different wines than they normally do. In those cases, careful handling both in the vineyard and in the earliest stages at the winery created sound wines with stunningly gorgeous aromatics, lighter body and higher acidity than usual. We were fortunate to have been able to capitalize on their best aspects bringing out the beauty of wines by blending within or between appellations and on either side of the rain’s onset to get things just right.
Speaking of larger scale weather events, California’s drought is very much on everyone’s minds. Despite the 60% of average rainfall, the vineyards on well–drained soils of sufficient depth (pretty much everything we work with) started out the year with soil moisture at full–capacity. The vines look great. Although the crop size in the Zinfandel and much of the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir appear to be a bit smaller with tinier berries and lighter clusters, it is very encouraging to see such happy plants in general. I wish it was the same for all farmers of different crops through the state.
- Futures 2013 Old & Mature Vine Zinfandel
- Futures 2013 Shale Terrace Zinfandel
- 2010 Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir
- 2011 Sonoma County Pinot Noir
- 2012 Scherrer Vineyard Chardonnay