Early and light! 2015 was the earliest harvest in my memory. We started with our Verdelho on August 12th, and then Tempranillo on August 20th - a whole month earlier than last year. Our old vine Zins started on August 28th and we finished picking them by September 15th, the usual starting point. Many ask if the early harvest was due to the drought, but in our experience it was the warm spring coupled with low yields that allowed the grapes to ripen up early. The vines whole growth cycle was essentially moved up a month. It’s also interesting to note that we essentially dry-farmed our vineyards in Amador County this year. We gave some of our vines a little water after the September heat spells, but many things had already been picked.
And the most important point, the quality of the young wines looks to be outstanding. We saw some of the darkest and most aromatic wines from this year’s harvest. That may be drought related, and could be yield related as well, but that’s part of the mystery. Unfortunately, for us as farmers the yields were pretty low this year. We had some blocks that came in about 1/3 of last year, and others hovered around 50% of normal. Fortunately, the Zins were up a bit after 2014’s dismal yields. But that is farming, and that is winemaking, and that is what makes it fun and interesting.