2010 will be remembered as the year that defied all expectations! The year began with above-average rainfall that swelled creeks and ponds and saturated soils. The resulting grapevine canopies were lush and full, despite the cool temperatures that slowed cane development. A pleasantly cool summer further lengthened the season and had many of us hoping for the warm sunny days that are typical of Napa's growing season. We got our wish in the form of warmth beginning at the end of August, when a series of low-humidity heat waves with little cooling wind settled upon us. Due to the cool, early season, the vines and grapes were not well prepared to handle the extreme temperatures, and many farmers reported crop losses as high as 25% over a single two-day heat event. This tumultuous year was capped by torrential rains in mid-October and by a severe early frost around Thanksgiving.
At Spottswoode we are annually thankful to our unique canopy structure that protects our fruit from much of the sun's damaging rays. And we were pleased to have our fruit harvested before the heavy rains came in October. Despite the lengthy, cool season that was interrupted by heat spikes, the fruit we brought into the winery had firm mature seeds with readily-extractable color and tannin in the skins. The young wines are rich and ripe, yet we would expect them to exhibit an element of restraint typically found in cooler vintages.
Many farmers in Napa had never seen a year like 2010 before. The most experienced among us thought they might have remembered something like this some 40 years ago in the early 70s. In spite of the high quality we were able to achieve in our grapes, it is safe to say that, after a roller coaster year like this one, our vineyard team hopes it's another 40 years before we see anything like it again!
My appreciate goes to our skilled vineyard crew led by Aron Weinkauf and Jose Luis Lopez and our positive and hard working winery interns, Landon Donley and Sam Rudd for the successes we enjoyed this harvest.—Jennifer Williams, Winemaker