2010: Superb, Pure & Expressive wines. All 3 cases made!

I am a farmer. Other than during harvest when I spend 40 days straight in my Carhartt workpants, this would not be abundantly obvious by just looking at me. But my accountant knows it. So does my stomach doctor. They witness the ups and downs that befall someone whose livelihood is tied to agriculture. I mentioned in an earlier newsletter that I had attained a Zen state about the weather and its effect on my business. Well, let’s just say the 2010 vintage created ripples in the calm of my mind. A ripple shaped somewhat like a tsunami.

The growing season started out wet and cool and stayed that way through flowering. As a result we set only about 60% of our normal crop load – which is on average already frightfully low. Fall temperatures were also cool but interrupted by a heat wave in the middle of September that fortunately did not adversely affect us too greatly and provided much needed ripening. We picked the little fruit we had a few weeks later than normal and our yields came in around 1 ton per acre depending on the variety. As a result our total production dropped in half. Ouch.

So, what does this mean for you (or, more to the point, why should you care?) Well, first there is not much wine to go around this year. We only made 380 cases of 2010 Pomarium Pinot noir, for example. This scarcity is compounded by the fact that we made superb wines that I have a feeling will be much lauded. They are pure and focused with energy, depth and freshness. It also means, however, that some favorite wines were not made in 2010. No 2010 Roussanne/Marsanne, I am afraid; it was not even close to getting ripe. Also, we will not make a 2010 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay but only a 2010 Estate Chardonnay that will be released in the fall. You will have to make do with the 2009 Estate Chardonnay you purchased last fall. If stocks are low, we have roughly 10 cases in our inventory. For what it is worth, Vanessa feels the 2009 is the best Chardonnay we have produced and has the depth and character to age beautifully. And, in my experience, Vanessa is seldom wrong.

But, we will weather this vintage. No new tractors (well, actually, our 14 year-old Ford tractor prematurely kicked the bucket so we purchased a used tractor), less travel around the country to meet customers, and the postponement of installing a new fountain at the winery (ha! Just kidding.) This is all okay. We decided to farm on the edge with an awareness of the risks. But, being here enables us to make wines from ripe fruit that nevertheless result in a harmonious balance of flavor, alcohol and acidity. Wines that speak of a place. And if it were easy, every one would do it. My father has a saying that should become my new meditation when the ripples begin to form, “adversity is the stone we sharpen our swords against to make us stronger.” En garde!


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