It is impossible to talk about harvest 2017 without mentioning the tragic, surreal, and broadly reaching natural disasters that impacted every life in the Sonoma and Napa Counties. In early October, lives and homes were lost, people were displaced and scared, and stories of heroism kept everyone’s hope afloat. And through it all, harvest continued.
We faced challenging heat spikes beginning the 2017 vintage, followed by mild, dry days of September and early October. These days allowed the vines to ripen their crop evenly, without continued stress from heat. We harvested the last the 2017 grapes in the first week in October: Cabernet from Oakville whose flavor development had benefitted from a few extra days of hang time.
The good news is that the bulk of harvest was complete on October 8th – the night the wildfires started – and the 2017 wines in tank and barrel were safely out of harm’s way. Smoke from the fires billowed broadly, blowing west over the Pacific in a massive plume visible from space. Winemakers and winery workers donned masks and continued on in their work.
One memorable morning as we drove towards the winery, we passed a line of fire trucks headed down the highway - taillights blinking as they drove away from Napa and Sonoma. Fifteen or twenty trucks roared by, their exodus signaling that we all could exhale and start to put life back together. Now in December, the swaths of blackened hillside are slowly greening under a soft fuzz of new grass and the vines are preparing for their long winter’s nap. Harvest 2017 will be always be memorable, and not only for the wildfires. It will be remembered as the year we all learned how much we care for our neighbors, our coworkers, our homes, and the stunning landscape around us.