Post Fire Vineyard Update

13th Oct 2020 @ 19:51 by Sue


It has been a crazy year for everyone, and the 2020 experience has been no different among the vines. As a result of multiple heat spells with temperatures higher than 105 degrees, the grapes on a 93-year-old vineyard that we dry farm shriveled on the vine and could not be harvested. The spells weren’t just spikes in temperatures, they were multiple days of high temperatures, coupled with severe smoke exposure from fires, in August and September.

Many of the vines in Wine Country experienced heavy smoke exposure that caused smoke taint. This flaw will not show up until the alcoholic fermentation about 6 days into the winemaking process. The smoke taint can range from a pleasant campfire to a stinky ashtray. Because of this, we opted to take the juice off the skins sooner to avoid more of the smoke damage soaking into the wine. We made fewer red wines and a minimal amount of wines in general. We focused more on rosés and white wines, including a new Chardonnay/Gewürtztraminer estate blend. We also made more of our 50-50 sparkling wine.

Luckily, our vineyards did not experience fire destruction like some of our neighbors in Napa County. Many of our customers have asked, “What will happen to those vineyards that did burn in the fire?” Owner of Harvest Moon Winery, Randy Pitts, commented, “The owner’s best bet is to prune them back really hard and wait to see if anything of value comes back. The other option is to rip out the vineyards and start over.”

It is sad for our winery community to be experiencing these devastating wildfires and challenges in the vineyards. But alas, this is what farming is about. The expected and the unexpected…then figuring out the best course of action to continue to provide high quality wines for our fans. We thank you for your continued support during such an incredibly historic year and we hope to see you soon!