Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Harvest/Vintage Report 2000-2011

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2011: Rainfall into mid June delayed bud burst and fruit set. The amount of rainfall was nearly a third above average promoting a cooler than average growing season which saw delayed development of the vines during the growing season by several weeks. The cooler growing season boded well for sparkling wine producers but it remains to be seen how still wines will show. Rating: ?

2010: Rainfall delayed flowering and fruit set by two weeks. Cloud cover prevented frost damage in 2010 and meticulous canopy management was necessary to avoid mildew and problems with pests. Veraison was pushed back anywhere from 10 days to two weeks. The first day of harvest saw a heat spike from August 24-25 and as a result some sites saw many grapes sunburn due to the earlier thinning of the canopy to adjust to the cooler growing season. The result was a late and shortened harvest with low yields. Rating: Remains to be seen

2009: An outstanding year with rainfall levels about two-thirds the normal amount and a steady mild/cool growing season. No threats of frost either. Great hangtime for the grapes in 09 promoting an excellent balance of sugar to acid. Rating: 89 D/H

2008: Less than normal amounts of rainfall in the winter promoted drier grounds during the beginning of the growing season.  Budbreak was early starting in the middle of March. One of the worst frost seasons on record with over 20 frost warnings issued throughout the season. Heat spikes in May and heavy winds and additional rainfall made things difficult for farmers. Close monitoring of irrigation was critical as the dry season started two weeks earlier than usual. Yields were small but those berries that survived the season were balanced and concentrated in flavor. Rating: 95 D/H

2007: Bud break was in mid to late March.  An early spring with low precipitation ensued promoting drier soils. A mild summer with temperatures largely staying below 90 degrees led to a steady growing season. Veraison occurred in mid July and heat spikes occurred around Labor Day but were cooled off by good night time breezes. Some areas of the valley were able to harvest by the end of September, but most dragged the harvest through October until weather permitted a good time for picking. Rating: 98 D/H

2006: Heavy rainfall  and cool temperatures during the spring prior to the growing season delayed budburst. A ten day heat wave was experienced in mid July and led to sunburn of some clusters, but these were fortunately easy to remove during green harvest. Mild temperatures during the rest of July and August led to the harvesting of concentrated fruit with great flavor. Rating: 92 D/H

2005: The year of the vintner. The quality of wine produced this year depended on vineyard management decisions and it seems the valley saw a very fruitful and successful year. What started with showers late in to the Spring ended with cooler than average summer months that promoted even ripening and balanced fruit. High berry counts and cluster weights were observed due to the lack of stressful conditions the season had to offer. The lower than normal sugar levels in the grapes meant that there was higher acidity that will allow these wines to be more ageworthy than most of the other vintages listed. Some wines can be aged for up to 10 years and still show signs of development. Rating: 95 D/H

2004: The growing season started earlier than expected due to warmer Spring time temperatures. Mild temperatures throughout the summer led to the development of balanced lighter than anticipated clusters with good aromatics and well structured tannins. Other than a small heat spike in September the growing season promoted a steady even ripening. Rating: 91 D/H

2003: A challenging season that saw heat spikes in March and one of the wettest Aprils on record. Cool temperatures during spring promoted a late onset to the growing season but a long mild summer led to small but concentrated berries. Rating: 92 D/H

2002: Average rainfall throughout the growing season that was long, mild, and dry otherwise promoting good hangtime allowing for the development of good aromatics and concentrated, but well balanced fruit. Rating: 96 D/H

2001: Earlier flowering was encouraged due to a couple of heat spikes in March. The hottest May on record and one of the top three hottest Junes on record promoted rapid ripening and led to a harvest that took place about three weeks ahead of normal time though cool August nights allowed for the sugar ripening to level off and allow for good hangtime prior to the onset of harvest. Rating 97 D/H

2000: Fruit of outstanding quality was produced and this was largely due to the exceptionally uneventful Spring and Summer seasons. Cool and even ripening season persisted with only a couple of heat spikes in June. Harvest took place through mid October. It should be noted that there were was a wide range of quality production this year as some were really great while others were not as great so the average rating is slightly skewed in the negative. Rating: 86 D

All harvest reports were written based on the information provided by the Napa Valley Vintners Association as well as the Wine Institute

Ratings were given by a Vintage Chart for Napa Valley Cabs provided by Loren Sonkin

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