Santa Maria Valley
The always-cool Santa Maria Valley was even cooler in 1999, and we harvested these grapes in early October. The grapes ripened slowly, but just as they were getting close to being ready, a hot spell caused all the tiny shot berries in the clusters to raisin, and the sugar level soared. In two days they went from definitely not quite ready to extremely ripe. We grabbed them off the vines immediately, but the fermentation went tumultuously, to say the least. I tried every trick in the book to avoid disaster and wasn’t sure that I had succeeded until summer, when the wine finally fell clear.
A friend of mine who helped with the bottling of this wine tasted it recently and said he thought it was our best effort to date. This surprised me, so I went and found a bottle in our cellar, tasted it and decided he might be right! Amazingly, what we have here is a dark, full throttle, savory, flavor-y wine that is delicious to drink. I bit my nails a lot over this one, but this wine proves the point that, if you have great grapes in an exceptional year, you are likely succeed in making a special wine.