Although 2013 has been heralded as a great vintage for California Pinot Noir, like Oregon producers, we're even more impressed with this 2014 vintage. Budbreak and harvest in 2014 were a week earlier than the prior vintage. The days during Pinot harvest in 2014 were sunnier, with 17% more solar radiation, and warmer, with daily high temperatures averaging 88°F compared to 81°F in 2013. Yields, in terms of pounds of fruit per vine, were virtually identical for the two vintages. Harvest sugars and acids measured identically for the two vintages with the pH of the final wine slightly higher in 2014. Both were produced from estate grown grapes, but the 2014 vintage has a higher percentage of fruit from Boonville which is a slightly warmer viticultural microclimate than Philo.
"De-leafed" Pinot Noir vines. Note the leaves on the ground. Preceding the pickers was a smaller crew removing leaves around the clusters making them much more visible to harvest.
Harvesting the Garden Spot Pinot Noir at night. Three tractors are necessary for night harvest; two to hold bins in which the pickers dump the fruit and a third tractor to move the floodlights with the pickers. The "light" tractor is on the far left in an adjacent row; the wheels can be seen behind a picker.
Whatever the reason, this bottling certainly won't disappoint and the price tag is astonishingly tiny. The season produced a wine with a fully ripe black cherry profile and the higher pH makes the wine a little more accessible in its youth. We kept the tannins supple by fermenting in small lots and punching down by hand. After pressing, the wine was aged ten months in seasoned, rather than new, French oak barrels to showcase Pinot's succulent fruit, then aged another year in bottles prior to release. A heavenly match with beef stew enhanced with local morels and chanterelles or just sauté the mushrooms for vegetarians in your crowd. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.