2021 Harvest Update
Grape Creek Vineyards, Texas Hill Country AVA
Mother Nature gave us many challenges this year, beginning with nine consecutive days of freezing temperatures and ice-covered vines in February. Freeze damage to the vines resulted in reduced yields for most varieties. Our Chenin Blanc was especially hard hit with less than a quarter of normal fruit load. Cold soils lead to a slightly later than normal bud break in March followed by a cloudy, misty April and three rainy months during May, June and July. We utilized vigorous hand canopy management, supported by our hedger and leaf puller, to keep the fruit zones open as much as possible. Due to reduced quality from berry split, we chose to completely drop our Chenin Blanc crop. Fortunately, the weather improved but stayed relatively cool, allowing our remaining fruit to mature slowly with high daily temperature swings. During the months of June, July and August, over 70% of the low temperatures were in the sixties. This created the benefit of slower maturation and resulted in harvest occurring two weeks later than 2020. We had excellent quality and on-target quantities of Tannat and Albariño. While we experienced 30% reduced yields from our Montepulciano, Aglianico and Petite Sirah, the quality was there. We continue to learn and adapt to every condition and see this year’s harvest producing a smaller, but enticing, vintage.
Texas High Plains AVA
The Texas High Plains experienced ”snowmageddon”, much like most of Texas. The majority of the vines survived the extreme cold, which was a blessing because if higher levels of moisture are present within the plant the trunks can split. Luckily, they were in full dormancy and had not begun the process toward bud break. Certain varieties experienced impacts that led to nearly 100% loss of any fruit development for 2021 while others seemed to shake off the influence almost entirely. Following winter, a spring hailstorm impacted a number of growers as well. Despite these challenges, our growers tended to the vineyards with care and diligence resulting in yields that were better than initial expectations. Everyone pulled together toward harvest and completed another successful season. A special thanks to Lahey Vineyards for providing access to additional grapes beyond our contracted acreage.
The upside to challenging growing years is that the vines tend to “recover” to normalcy, which could lead to a robust 2022 vintage. While this year took some effort, our winery team was successful at working with our growers to derive both higher quality and quantity than projected. Thanks to their dedication, we will see those efforts in the 2021 vintages over the next few years.
Heath Vineyards, Paso Robles Willow Creek District
This year the weather has been extremely dry. The vineyard only received about 10 inches of rain, most of which occurred in January. The winter weather was mild with some cold nights as a result of the dry weather. The spring was pleasant with sunny bright days and no late freezes.
Bloom occurred in mid-June under warm conditions. The canopies were smaller due to the lack of rainfall over the dormant season, which directly affected the crop size. Thus far, yields have been below average with small berries. This will lead to more concentration and color in the wines.
As we approached harvest, we experienced a few hot days but the evenings were cool. This helped maintain acid levels and afforded more hang time. The 2020 plantings of Cab Franc and Malbec are doing quite well and should provide a partial crop from these blocks in 2022.