2012 was what might be considered a near-idyllic growing season. In spite of this, Mother Nature consistently offers both challenges as well as rewards, and in 2012 there were a few challenges that we needed to manage.
We experienced one of our driest winters in decades, though we had a decent amount of rain in the spring that recharged the soils and provided enough water for the plants to grow well early on. Bud break was later-than-normal but, in spite of this, we were blessed with great bloom conditions in April. This set the stage for what would become a very prodigious vintage. The growing season was marked by warm weather, stereotypic periods of cooling due to the marine influence and early-morning fogs, and few to none of the extreme heat spells that we often have. Though we did break 100˙F numerous times, the vines were in great shape and we were lucky that we did not experience even higher temperatures. With just a few exceptions, temperatures waned after veraison in August, and we enjoyed a long, even ripening phase. Without the early threat of rains, this offered a long window in which to pick. This was opportune because yields were high—clusters were heavier than normal. Despite the large yields, the quality was extremely high. We bled off about 10% of the juice immediately to concentrate flavors, which is an average saignée for us. We had great tannin development and excellent color, and our fermentations progressed quickly. The wines in general only spent about 23 days on skins, which is close to average for us. It was a pleasure to make the wines in 2012; the vintage was close to a dream come true!—Aron Weinkauf, Winemaker