RARE CHALLENGES TESTED OUR TEAM, taught us invaluable lessons, and ultimately produced a beautiful wine. It’s a rare growing season that withholds curveballs—a freak frost after bud break, a brutal heat spell just before harvest. But in 2020…well, let’s just say challenge was the theme.
First, there was a year-long drought, then the wild fires came. Oh, and remember lockdown? Despite the global pandemic, the wine industry as an agricultural operation was considered an essential business. But along the way, through all the tumult and turmoil, something unusual happened—our team used these challenges to band together and fuel our commitment to the vineyard, making one of the vintages we are most proud of.
We clocked only about half our normal rainfall in Coombsville—10 inches versus 20 or so. We’re lucky, though, to have a large, healthy reservoir, and we were able to make up
nature’s deficit, irrigating to mimic rejuvenating spring rains. The drought conditions prompted the vines to carry less fruit, which allowed them to ripen earlier than typical.
And then came fire. Or rather, fires. The August Complex in the Coast Range was followed on September 27 by the Glass Fire, ripping from the eastern hills across the northern reaches of Napa Valley west into Sonoma. We went into high gear and harvested quickly, but as meticulously as ever. In the cellar, we tasted small lots more exhaustively than ever, culling out any that didn’t meet our quality standards.
In the face of human and natural disaster, we wanted to make the wine we always make—a wine of the highest quality, in our complex, vibrant style. In the end, our cool location at the southern tip of Napa Valley was something of a savior, and our final blend— albeit small—is the purest expression of an ultimately gratifying vintage.