We’ve had another sensational year in the vineyards. The 2016 Cabernet and red grape growing season at Vine Cliff was near perfect. Canopies and vigor were balanced to support our low yields, small clusters, and small concentrated berries. Consistently warm temperatures during the day, and moderate heat spikes gave us the slow even ripening essential to making fine Cabernet. Our last Cabernet clone was harvested the day before the first rain. Blessed with perfect sunny days during ripening, our steep hillside vineyards are showing their true color as they ferment in the finest French oak barrels and small tanks.
Other red varieties at Vine Cliff also benefitted from the good growing season. Malbec was the first to be harvested and is already aging in French barrels. It is dark and shows rich plum and berry. The Zinfandel was picked ripe with characteristic raspberry and spice. Our 2016 Chardonnay harvest ended on September 22nd with an excellent growing season and weather during the pick.
Again, the Los Carneros Vineyard has proven itself as a perfect location for growing Chardonnay: enough heat to produce opulent yellow gold berries and luscious flavors combined with cool afternoon breezes off the bay and morning fog that provide balanced acidity, extended hang-time, and aroma that jumps out of the glass. All Chardonnay lots are barrel-fermenting as we write, filling the winery with aromas of green apple, pear, lemon crème, and a floral yeasty bouquet. As always, our Dijon clones pay homage to their great Burgundian cousins with a hint of mineral and earth.
All in all, a season that gave us what we look for from the Vine Cliff Estate vineyards.