With all the grapes finally harvested for 2011, it’s the perfect time to look back at the year and digest what Mother Nature has given us. Here at Zaca Mesa Vineyards we are blessed with a wonderful climate for growing grapes, but every year is distinct and no two harvests are the same. Here are the highlights of the roller coaster ride that was 2011.
March & April:The vines awoke from their winter slumber in March without a hitch. Unfortunately, April had a different plan in mind, with a hard frost occurring during the overnight hours of the 8th, 9thand 10th. The severity of the frost caused quite a bit of damage to the young growth, reducing our yields in the lower sections of our vineyard where the cold air was able to settle.
May & June:For months that are typically dry and mild on the Central Coast, May and June were rather unsettled and wet. Disruptive weather and an early-June storm wreaked havoc on fruit-set, causing Shatter (poor-pollination). This lowered the already reduced yields even further, ensuring a tiny crop of grapes with loads of flavor.
July & August:Much like the summer of 2010, July and August remained cool. With temperatures that barely rose out of the 80’s, the small crop was allowed to ripen very slowly and evenly. But, with mild temperatures and moisture from the morning fog, mold/rot issues were problematic late into the season. Close attention and preventative methods such as organic sprays were utilized to keep the crop safe and rot-free.
September, October & November:With a cool summer, harvest was delayed by three or four weeks from average. And while the heat never really came, there were a few short bursts of good warmth that helped nudge the crop towards complete ripeness. A quick moving October storm added a little drama, but high winds and warm days followed, helping dry the fruit and lessen our fears. The grapes came in looking great and the final blocks of fruit were harvested in the first week of November ending the wild roller coaster ride.
Final Thoughts:2011 was a harvest that had quite a few hurdles for our vineyard staff. It was a year that shows great promise due to some of the lowest grape yields in our history and the slow/even ripening conditions of the season. The grapes on average were smaller than usual and contained a wonderful intensity of flavor. Sometimes the most difficult years yield the most interesting wines.
Ruben Camacho – Zaca Mesa Vineyard Foreman
Posted on: Dec 15, 2011