The second of five consecutive drought years in California, 2013 was significantly more severe than 2012 in its weather pattern and water stress. On the upside, by now we had a little more experience with drought-farming and, in the winery, with 100% on-the-stems fermentations. The resulting wine is a proud testament to the quality of our terroir, which keeps producing delicious, well balanced wines under less than ideal vintage conditions.
This vintage is reminiscent of our 2008 in its expansive, dark fruit aromatics and lavish fruit concentration, perhaps with a dash of the 2003 tannic backbone thrown in for good measure… Dark in color, open and expressive aromatically, medium-full bodied, densely textured, with deep layered fruit (mainly black, but also red and blue), solid structure, good balancing acidity and grip. The expression at the time of release (early 2017) is rich, juicy, and captivating, with wilder-earthy, mineral, savory/spicy notes more in the background. Its overall balance, density, concentration, phenolic presence & quality, acidity, and length lead me to believe that its tale will be told over long decades. However, similarly to the 2007 and 2008, its early drinkability is nearly irresistible.
About the terroir: Our 2-1/2 acre “Home Vineyard” is north-east facing, at 1530-1600 ft altitude. The top soil is alluvial clay-loam on volcanic ash, fractured granite, and quartz sub layers. Untypically to this area, which tends to be steep and extremely rocky, this site is gently sloped and with few rocks to be found. It is also unusually cool in the context of the Sierra Foothills AVA, providing the required climatic conditions for successful Pinot production. The vineyard was planted (own-rooted, 3×6′ spacing) in 1979/80 and 1999, using as many clones – known and unknown – as we could lay our hands on, plus a handful of Pinot Gris and Chardonnay vines just for fun. Irrigation is used sparingly (as needed) in the newer blocks, while the older block is dry farmed.
Vintage specifics: The season started with a very dry spring and earlier than normal bud-break (early April). After one wave of spring frost in early May, bloom was early but even, with perfect weather conditions (May 15-June 7). Early summer was fairly hot, with a couple of heat spikes in early June and early July, continuing with milder harvesting weather in August and September. Harvest started on August 28th, and continued in consecutive passes through the vines until September 17th, with sugars at ~23.3 Brix in average. The grapes were whole-cluster stomped in open-top fermenters, where un-inoculated, sulfite-free fermentations took place on 100% of the stems. Pressed after 7-14 day macerations into 5 to 20 year old barrels. Aged on the primary lees for 15 months, bottled on December 2nd, 2014. Bottled by gravity unfined/unfiltered, with one sulfur addition of 30ppm. Production: 1541 bottles.