The 2012 growing season was a vast improvement over the previous two seasons. It was relatively warm from spring through the end of October. No mid – October frost or rains which was the case in 2010. All in all, a very decent vintage. The grapes utilized to make this wine were harvested from the first through the fourth week of October. We also entered into our first grape contract for Lake Chelan AVA grapes. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay fruit was purchased for our first ever sparkling wine. Ultimately, this vintages sparkling wine would be rated in the range of “95 – 100 Points” by several wine critics!
The Winter: A great – injury free winter for Washington State grape growers. Snow pack was adequate supplying growers with plenty of irrigation water where needed. The lowest temperature was a plus 3 degrees. Vines had winter hardiness down to a minus 5 to minus 15 degrees depending on which grape variety is considered. Not having an estate vineyard yet, Athena and I were able to remain toasty warm indoors.
The Spring: Nice warm temperatures in eastern Washington vineyards resulted in bud break occurring right on schedule. I find this to be an almost magical time of year. Noting like that bright green color the young – tender grape shoots sport. May and early June remained warm with light periods of precipitation. July and August were fairly hot with temps topping out at 105 degrees. September and October were ideal with warm – dry days.
The Summer: Warm, warmer but not warmest. Not the growing season with the most warmth but very decent nonetheless. AND, no forest fires! It was a pleasure working with Joe Gerber our source for Lake Chelan AVA Chardonnay grapes. Everything we brought in around the state was in great shape. Drawing on 26 years of winemaking experience, all I had to do was turn fine quality grapes into excellent wine.
The Harvest: Athena and I splurged and bought some superb quality American oak barrels for our Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Malbec grapes. The more delicate Merlot and Cabernet Franc wines were aged in French oak. All of the fermentations finished without a hitch. All in all, we brought in about 1,400 cases worth of fruit. I am not sure why however, I derive a great deal of satisfaction filling barrels with the new vintage. Hard to explain, it is as though I am renewed via the latest vintage and all the promise it holds for the future.
Post Harvest: Once the red wines were safely in barrel, it was forward with getting the white and rose wines ready for a February bottling. Though the period after harvest is not as intense, there was plenty to be done….. from the standpoint of getting reacquainted with family!