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How was the growing season leading up to the winery’s 50th harvest season?
Domenick Bianco, Senior Vineyard Manager: We got off to an interesting start this year. Late spring cold weather and rain threw a curve ball at us. Both played out to our advantage and ended up being factors which set us up for a solid growing season. With the exception of the historical heat wave, temperatures for the majority of this year were moderate, helping set us up for an exceptional vintage.
Ashley Hepworth, Napa Valley Winemaker: July was relatively mild, August was much warmer compared to the last 20 years. We started picking reds on September 7th which is around the same time we began picking the last two years. But normally we are starting to pick reds mid to late September.
How did the heat spike affect your picking decisions?
AH: There was some heat damage or bleaching of the clusters on the afternoon side (just on the exposed side) in certain row orientations in certain vineyard blocks that we have carefully sorted out on the crush pad. The blocks that were ready or nearly ready to be picked we picked during the heat wave so that we didn’t have any dimpling of fruit. We saw some aftereffects of the heat wave approximately three days after the last hot day. Some vines definitely took a beating. The leaves were damaged, and we knew we couldn’t let those blocks hang any longer. There weren’t many in this category. We have amended some fermentation regimes to cater to these blocks.
How has the fruit quality and flavor profile emerged in the fermenting wines?
AH: We are seeing nice fruit characteristics. We are watching tannin extraction carefully as we are seeing lower color, which is expected with the heat. We want to make balanced wines.
Kelly Fields, Napa Valley Assistant Winemaker: The 2022 harvest is bringing fresh, bright, fruit forward wines that we are excited to see how they develop in the next few months.
What are some of your most memorable harvests over the years and why?
AH: The harvests that are most memorable have been the challenging ones like 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2017, because that is when you really dig deep and use all of your knowledge and your team’s knowledge to make the best of the vintage.