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Vintage Notes from Justin Willett

In working with vines to create a natural product, it’s rare to have a vintage where just about everything lines up just right like 2013. Coming off of the very successful 2012 vintage where we had both nice crop levels, but also very high quality, we anticipated 2013 to be a much smaller crop. This sentiment was mainly due to the lack of rainfall we had been experiencing and that we typically never have back-to-back vintages of both good size and quality.

The 2013 vintage proved just about everyone wrong and gave us just about an ideal growing season. Spring frost was minimal with warm temperatures throughout the summer allowing the vines to set a beautiful crop and ripen it efficiently. Once harvest began, it was extremely intense and compressed. The warm temperatures throughout the growing season enabled the vines to compress their ripening and what normally became ripe over four weeks was ripe in two! Typically vineyards and blocks follow a fairly regular pattern as to the order with which they are picked from year to year. This was not the case in 2013. Thankfully we are well equipped for these sorts of challenges and I am extremely pleased with how we were able to manage the intense harvest period.

Tasting through the 2013 vintage I think the most apparent trait of the vintage is its texture. The pinot noir is elegant and supple with fine tannin. There is a freshness, almost coolness to the wines with ripe tannins and sappy fruit intensity that I attribute to the warmer than normal year allowing the fruit to develop fully even though we decided to begin our harvest two weeks before the beginning of 2012. The chardonnay has beautiful tension and acidity, and as always, a distinct ocean minerality that is the great mark of Santa Barbara County fruit. We began the chardonnay vintage on August 30th we finished the last of the pinot noir on September 13th, just before a substantial heat spike began.