As our vines enter veraison (the onset of ripening) phase of the growing season the anticipation and anxiety begin to heighten. While much of the US has been plagued by heat and drought, the Coastal region of California has been basking in almost perfect weather. As grape growers we measure the warmth of our seasons by Degree Days (a measure of hours that the vines are photosynthetically active). In 2004, the last "warm" vintage we experienced in Carneros, we were already at 1400 hours on today’s date, August 9th. This year we are art 1200, which is identical to the cool but superb 2009 vintage. In fact the degree days for the last three years are almost identical and they were all "cool" vintages. So this mean’s things will be perfect in 2012, right? Here’s where the anxiety creeps in as we still have at least a month before Harvest starts and then 4-6 weeks of picking fruit, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that we dodge any extreme heat or heavy rains and bring this vintage in smoothly.
Up on Mt Veeder it’s a little more challenging to compare data as the closest CIMIS weather station is in Oakville and not really indicative of conditions at Brandlin Vineyard. Most of Napa Valley proper is in full veraison so they are definitely experiencing a warmer vintage then Mt. Veeder. The last two seasons we harvested Brandlin in November and I feel pretty confident this year we’ll have things wrapped up before Halloween, a few weeks earlier than the quite cool preceding years.
So at this time I can report that the hygiene of the vineyard is excellent, crop levels are in the average yield range and we will be making our final "color thinning" over the next few weeks to leave behind the best fruit we can.
--Steve Rogstad, Winemaker