On the morning of September 30, we–the royal we–completed our last harvest for 2016. As anyone who follows California viticulture can appreciate, wine grape vintages are a little bit like the children of Lake Wobegon–they’re all above average (at least until the wines made from them are all sold). We’ve been doing this long enough to know that that’s not only mathematically impossible, it’s not true: some really are below average. However, 2016 was not one of them. In terms of timing, the vintage was only slightly later than last year’s historically early vintage. However, at least at Shaker Ridge, we had no frost damage, no issues with powdery mildew, plenty of sunshine without excessive heat and wind for most of the growing season, and a relatively high yield that we were able to fully ripen. It was also the first year we employed the services of a vineyard manager to remove some of the burden of vineyard logistics, but we remained heavily involved nonetheless, particularly as harvest approached.
It was certainly on the warm side in late August and much of September, but we’ve seen a lot worse, and apart from our barbera which got partially nuked (lowering yield) by the high heat from a string of triple-digit days in July, ripening conditions were reasonable, there was no rain after May, and the grapes managed just fine. In the end, we had a record harvest of nearly 21 tons that went to 4 commercial wineries and approximately 20 home winemakers.
We thank, as always, our clients for working with us with harvest logistics, keeping commitments, arriving on time to pick up grapes, and in many cases sharing wine that you have prepared from our grapes in the past. In that regard, a special thanks to Thad Rogers of the Sacramento Home Winemakers (SHW) for sharing his 2014 primitivo made from our grapes that stunned the cabernet- and Rhone-focused wine judging circuit by taking Best of Reds at the SHW’s Jubilee competition this year, a remarkable accomplishment that reminds us why we do this. And by the end of the season, that’s a reminder we usually need.
We plan to be on time next year in posting availability and pricing of grapes for 2017 by the end of January, but will consider requests for reservations on a case-by-case basis. Until then, we hope you enjoy the “off season,” as we certainly intend to!
“Here in a small town, where it feels like home,
I’ve got everything I need, and nothing that I don’t.”
–Zac Brown Band (“Homegrown”)