Friday, January 15, 2010

2009 Vintage - early reports

I'm starting to hear some preliminary reports on the 2009 vintage which might be of interest.

The winter of 2008-09 was not as dry as the previous two years, but the total rainfall was still slightly below average. The growing season was long and cool, with a little late season Powdery Mildew to watch out for. Early predictions of a bumper crop proved largely unfounded; many growers are reporting roughly average yields, though in some cases there was some green harvesting. There were some reports of shatter on early flowering varieties.

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are early ripening varieties and had mostly been harvested prior to the storms in October. The storms were not as heavy as predicted, but still posed significant problems; the grapes took in water and sugar levels dropped. In some cooler areas the grapes struggled to ripen and may taste green or dilute; in warmer areas sunburn was a problem. The rain also encouraged the development of botrytis, which is unwelcome in red grapes. But overall most seem happy with the quality and yields; at least one winemaker has told me he believes the 2009s are the best wines he's made so far.

Elsewhere in the state the big problem has not been the weather but the economy. The market for $50+ wines has all but evaporated, with consumers scaling down their purchases in search of value. Many growers who had failed to sign contracts for their fruit have been forced to sell cheaply, to pick and crush for the bulk market, or in extreme cases not to pick at all. Expect a glut of bargain 2009s in the near future.

I hope to try some barrel samples of the 09s in the coming months and will report what I find. In the meantime I hope that local growers and winemakers will add their thoughts either as a comment or - if you prefer not to be attributed - by email.


Hampers said...
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The Coastview said...

Making wine in the 2009 vintage was more difficult and varied than the previous two in our area. Mildew and rain were very prevalent, and some vineyards just didn't get picked. The heat spike at the end of september also ruined some wines. The grapes I picked between the heat and the rain were fantastic, and I harvested several lots out of the santa clara valley after the rain that are showing very, very good, wines picked before the heat spike are also solid, some very interesting flavors... I think it's very difficult to give a straight answer on 2009, because the vintage was so varied. No doubt you will find some excellent 09 wines, and some stinkers. I have some gems to show you.

George Radu said...

I just started following your blog. I'm a home wine maker and have a blog I call "Home Wine Making 101". If you like we can get together and taste my 2009 wines.