Our friends at the Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux) Collective recently breathed a sigh of relief as Harvest 2013 wrapped up. And the good news? By all accounts, this will be a vintage to remember for Paso Robles.
“The 2013 vintage is a classic example of why Paso Robles is such an exceptional location for growing Bordeaux varietals. Being weather-obsessive as most winemakers are, I knew this was going to be a year for dense Cab. Dry conditions like this year usually produce small berries which have a concentrated skin-to-juice ratio. This provides the wine with ample color, fruit and depth. But these are typically a given when producing Cabernet in Paso. Nowhere else is the richness and fruit of Cabernet so consistently expressed as in Paso Robles.
In an almost inverse challenge to other regions, the structure elements of acid and tannin are what I’m most concerned with capturing each vintage. Also, the heavy seed tannin concentration is high enough that I won’t need wood tannin from new barrels, so I’ll use less new oak than the pre-harvest plan called for. With this commitment to producing a wine that needs aging comes another requirement (and here is where the true miracle of this vintage has shown itself): With each lot of rich, ripe fruit harvested last week, I expected to see the berries sapped of their acidic strength by the warm September sun. Not the case at all. The pH and total acidity readings have been incredibly high. This is an absolute necessity for the creation of age-worthy wines, as without this acidic backbone, these dense ripe wines can be too easily off-balance, flabby, and without real character.
So all in all, at this earliest of stages in the wines’ life, I could not be more enthusiastic about the vintage. It may not be until 2016 that these wines are ready to taste, but if there is enough patience to let natural aging run its course, this vintage has all the requisite fundamentals for the production of remarkable Bordeaux varietals.”
Jason Joyce, Winemaker, Calcareous Vineyard
“This year is turning out to be fantastic for Paso-area fruit in general, and I think many grape farmers in the area would agree. For us, we have been blessed with both a large, healthy crop-load, and amazing quality as well. Some of the clones that usually seem to struggle somewhat with fruit-set and the development of sugars have shown up in full-force this year with an impressive fruit-set, terrific flavor, and ideal sugar development. The berry size is small, with an excellent and ideal skin-to-pulp ratio, which we can already see will beautifully impart its luxurious colors and flavors unto this year’s vintage.
The talk of the town this year is the timing of these crops. I believe that most farmers are seeing their crop’s development as being weeks ahead of the last few years, due to good weather early on, and not having to battle much in the way of frost problems around bud-break. Also, with the fruit’s development being ahead of the expected schedule, it means that we will be able to comfortably develop the sugars we need, as well as the flavors we want, before the rainy season hits us. This is an unusual, but huge, blessing for us and our harvest.
We are very excited and enthusiastic about this year’s crop and believe it will produce an excellent harvest, and in turn, some very special wine.”
Ethan Ray, Assistant Winemaker/Assistant Vineyard Manager, Parrish Family Vineyards
“An early and warm spring got the growing season off to a quick start. Some cool stretches in the summer allowed varieties like Merlot to coast a bit and be ready for harvest around the same as an average year. However, for us, Cabernet Sauvignon will be coming in around two weeks earlier than normal. Our harvest size should be about average with nicely-sized clusters that should provide nice flavor and concentration.”
Michael Barreto, Winemaker, Le Vigne Winery
“Jada Vineyard is located in a unique mesoclimate. 2013 is looking to be a perfect vintage for our vineyard site. I wouldn’t label our vineyard as a ‘cool’ site, because of our total degree days, but it does prove to be cooler than others in the area. This has factored into our 2013 harvest, allowing flavors, color, and tannin to develop at a slower and more even pace. In late September, we were just starting to pick some of our blocks.
The challenging side of the 2013 vintage is dealing with uniformity issues within each block. The key to rock star wines this year, for our vineyard and location within the AVA, is patience and picking extremely small sections of each block, and only when they are ready.If I were to pick the entire block at the same time, it could jeopardize the wine quality.”
David Galzignato, Winemaker, Jada Vineyard