May 09th, 2019

I sat down with Hailey Alexander, our Assistant Winemaker, to ask her what she thought about the growing season and what she predicts the upcoming harvest is going to be like, “We had a beautiful end of fall. The vines went into hibernation with no early frost, they had time to go into senescence…”

Sangiovese bud break at Williamson

Okay, hold up, what exactly is “senescence”? Senescence, in the simplest terms, is when the vines tell themselves that it’s time to go into hibernation. The water and nutrients from the leaves and vines flow down to the roots and the vine becomes dormant until the next hint of spring comes around. Okay, carry on— “We went out to the vineyards yesterday and saw the bud break, everything is looking very fruitful.”

Rock Spur Vineyard near Melba

Obviously fruitful is a word with a positive connotation, but what exactly does this mean for us? More grapes, sure, but we don’t have enough space in our winery to use all of the grapes that this growing season is projected to produce. A fruitful season will mean our winemakers will have to be especially vigilant in making sure our growers reduce the crop in our vineyards in order for us to obtain the flavor and ripeness we’re aiming for. More isn’t always better when it comes to grapes in the vineyard, the amount of grapes we allow the vines to grow can impact the final flavor of the wine— but this is why we have great relationships with our growers because we can ask them to farm it exactly to our requirements. “Too much Viognier is a good problem to have,” said Hailey, “with all of the fruit growing in our blocks in vineyards like Williamson, Sawtooth, and a new location called Rock Spur, we’re going to be able to trim the vines and pick the very best clusters for our wine.” By reducing this “yield” we’ll start crafting the wine right now by nudging Mother Nature in a subtle way towards our goal. 

I don’t think I should use vulgar language in my company blog posts, but you all know what they say about Mother Nature, so I wanted to ask Hailey if there were any main concerns for the growing season, “Well, frost is a big concern, but that’s not going to happen. Hail season is probably the biggest concern right now, but the forecast is looking good.” Hail season, which usually takes place in May & June, tends to leave grape growers and winemakers on their toes.

Williamson Syrah

As Hailey and I were chatting, Melanie came up the stairs so I asked, “Melanie, what if Mother Nature has a mood swing?” She looked me dead in the eyes and said, “I’m just glad that Mother Nature is not you or Hailey, there would be a lot of mood swings.” Ouch. True, but still, ouch.

Melanie was busy (what winemaker isn’t?) so I quickly asked her what she thought this growing season was going to be like,

“I don’t like to count my chickens before they hatch, but the chickens and the wine look delicious.”

I’m looking forward to following the 2019 Vintage through all the stages and sharing my findings with you.  Check back in two weeks when I’ll have another snapshot into the season!