There’s an old saying that if you ask a winemaker what they think of the upcoming vintage, they will always tell you that it will be the vintage of the century. There may be a grain of truth to that, but up at the top of Spring Mountain, we think there is genuine reason to be truly excited about 2010. The flavors in the grapes this year are phenomenal.
In the final push toward harvest, the vine balance (ratio of fruit to canopy) is just where we want it. Significant crop thinning during the spring as well as a green drop at veraison helped to produce this result along with carefully restrained irrigation all season. With selective leaf pulling (a painstaking job done by hand), the canopy was opened to provide just enough sun exposure to maximize ripening while still protecting the delicate grapes from sunburn. As the days now shorten and we enjoy warm days and cool nights, it is a joy to watch the day-to-day development of the intense flavors and concentration in the evenly ripening fruit that is a hallmark of our vineyards.
We are also excited that some of our younger blocks are reaching maturity and should provide truly excellent fruit this year. “Jim’s Vineyard,” a block that was planted in 2006 from cuttings taken from our “Rock Arch” block (the source of our most intensely concentrated cab and always a contributor to our Reserve Cab) produced some of our most exciting lots in 2008 and 2009. Now that the vines are in their fourth leaf, they will produce fruit that is even more expressive and complex. Our “Valley” block (named because it occupies a four acre swale just to the west of the winery) was also planted to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in 2006, and shows phenomenal flavor as well. A block with cabernet clones new to us (412 and 32) was planted in 2007 and we are interested to taste the first wine from these clones. Our “County Line” blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot were planted in 2002, and are now reaching their prime. The newest addition to the ranch is a two-acre block of terraced Cabernet Franc rows above the rainwater reservoir we use for irrigation. We won’t see fruit from these vines for another two years, but they are thriving in the mountain sunshine.
Mother Nature always gets the final say, but as we wait with baited breath for the magical moment when harvest begins, the vineyards seem poised for a spectacular vintage.