Wine is the best storyteller. And from what I can tell, this year’s vintage will tell an excellent tale.
It starts with a rainy spring, a blazingly hot July, and then an unseasonably cool first few weeks of August. The sugar levels appear to be accumulating at a slow pace, which will mean achieving phenolic maturity at an optimum alcohol level. Over the Holiday weekend, Napa Valley thermometers were ticking over 100 degrees at the peak of the day and dipping down into the 50s at night. Temperatures have come back down to bearable and now, finally, it’s time for harvest.
Our crews started picking grapes yesterday after one last burst of Labor Day sunshine. They began with Pinot Noir at renowned Hyde Vineyard, the superstar of the Los Carneros region of Napa Valley.
The rest of the Pinot will come later in the week, before the tractor moves on to Chardonnay and then ultimately to the Bordeaux reds and Cabernet Sauvignon from Schweizer Vineyard. It’s a heady few days of work — full of sweat and optimism — but we’re excited to see what nature gives us.
This will be my 22nd harvest since I started in the laboratories of the Robert Mondavi Winery. And the blend of expectation and mystery never fails to intoxicate. What we craft will be enjoyed decades from now, long after anyone will remember the rains of May or July’s heatwave.
We strive to create pure wines with little manipulation but plenty of vigilance so harvest is particularly critical for Mira. I’ve been watching the vines for weeks, assessing the tannins, measuring the sugar levels, and scanning the canopies, harvesting at the crucial intersection of optimum flavors, health and weather.
I want the wines to speak — to tell the story of the season. A heavy-handed winemaker may cover a lot of that up — sometimes they even have to — but that’s not my approach. Plus, this year’s grapes won’t need much help.
In the meantime I’m excited to say our Pinot Noir Hyde 2013 recently received a rave review (along with our Pinot Noir Stanly Ranch 2013) from Sommelier Amanda McCrossin of PRESS Restaurant in Napa Valley.
That she chose this wine as her favorite under $100 Pinot Noir in the Valley is a huge compliment, and I hope we can impress Amanda — and everyone else — just as much with this year’s vintage.
—Gustavo A. Gonzalez, Winemaker