The 2019 Growing Season
“The 2019 Cabernets are big, bold wines with huge fruit and tons of richness. Acids are generally lower than in the 2018s, while the wines have more volume. Texturally, the tannins are often quite present, which gives the wines a good bit of energy.” Antonio Galloni, Vinous
Overall, the 2019 growing season was similar to the great 2018 season with no major events. The 2019 season brought relatively cooler weather and heavy rainfall in February, March and May bringing with harvest dates closer to “normal”. Similarly, to the 2018 vintage, 2019 was defined by a warm August followed by cooler temperatures in September and October. The season was free of any extreme heat events, which allowed for consistent and measured ripening throughout.
Bud break peaked toward the end of March with conditions on the cooler side but were free of any frost events, ensuring good pollination and subsequent fruit set.
“The fruit ripened evenly, and harvesting took place from September 25 to October 21 with yields down from 2018. The grapes picked in September were harvested with great integrity and wonderful flavors. Then, low humidity and windy conditions in October pushed the grapes towards higher brix with ripe, concentrated flavors. Overall, the wines have developed wonderful flavors, dark colors with very smooth, approachable tannins.” - Philippe Melka
The 2018 Growing Season
The 2018 growing season was one of the coolest in the last 10 years, and unlike 2017 also one of the driest. Only 2008 had less rainfall. These conditions resulted in bud break a little later than usual and generated larger and heavier clusters. As a result, we were a bit more aggressive dropping fruit. Even so yields were on the high side.
This year also saw a smoke event in Mendocino (the Complex Fire) but fortunately no damage was incurred to the crop.
In general, 2018 was an excellent vintage with large, clean fruit and little shrivel resulting in wines of wonderful depth and complexity that will age beautifully over the years.
Harvesting started with our Cabernet Franc on September 27 and ended with the last of the Cabernet Sauvignon being picked on October 13.
The 2017 Growing Season
2017 was a year of extremes. By the end of March precipitation totals reached over 40 inches; the seventh wettest rainfall year since record keeping began in 1892, ending the great drought. High precipitation levels and cooler temperatures resulted in bud break 1-2 weeks later than 2016. This was made up for by higher temperatures in the second quarter and early September temperature spikes resulted in rapid sugar accumulation. The harvest started September 27th and ran through October 7th, ending one day before the massive October fires (started the evening of October 8th). As a result, we were very fortunate not to have incurred any smoke or fire damage to the grapes.
The 2016 Growing Season
The 2016 growing season started off with a very wet January and continued in then first quarter. By the end of March, we were at 96% of the annual precipitation level; a welcome relief after three years of drought.
These conditions led to bud break from March 18-23, a bit later than 2015. The late spring and summer were perfect growing conditions and with flowering occurring in the first two weeks of May. Veraison started early as well, during the third week of July, and we harvested between September 7th and the 28th, a much longer period than our 2015.
We are very proud of our 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2016 growing season was wonderful and yielded a wine with great intensity and a deep rich purple color, which we are sure you will enjoy for many years.
The 2015 Growing Season
The 2015 vintage was characterized by an early and warm growing season with low yields producing fruit of exceptional quality. Still in the midst of the several year drought, the vineyard benefited from heavy rains in December of 2014 and February 2015 which provided enough ground water to start the season off at full field capacity. A large number of growing degree days in February resulted in an early bud break and pushed us into an early bloom. From June until the end of the season, temperatures were above normal. With the lighter crop, the vines experienced rapid sugar loading. Harvest began on September 7th and finished on September 16th.
The 2014 Growing Season
Another dry year with only 25” rainfall during the growing season
February and March 2014 rainfall was 11 and 17” which saturated the soils before bud break. Overall rainfall was 55% of normal.
Atelier Melka started harvesting sauvignon blanc August 8th in Yountville and finished the harvest in 2014 October 16th in Howell Mountain. Overall, 2014 was one of the earliest harvests, even slightly earlier than 2004 as harvest began August 13th.
Jim Barbour stated about 2014: “ the earliest end of harvest ever - finishing mid October”
Rainfall was very low during the growing season but the events happened at a perfect timing.The temperatures from March to June were 3 to 5 degree higher than normal and so the vines had a strong and fast start resulting of a very healthy canopy, great maturity and large crop.
Growing degree days in 2014 was the highest since 1977:
We had about 7 days above 100F, 2 days in September, the 1st and 12th and 2 days in October , the 5th and 12th. Those warm temperatures resulted high sugar content in the must , similar to the 2013 vintage.
This vintage should be a strong one for Napa in general with the reds having deep color, rich and sweet flavors and strong sophisticated tannins.
The 2013 Growing Season
The 2013 growing season was warm and dry with very low rainfall following the December storms. After several years of having a later bud break, this year was more of a normal year for vines to come out of dormancy (bud break 4/3-4/8). Due to the lack of spring rains, especially in March, water management and ground cultivation was closely monitored and started earlier this year. Early seasons irrigations around bud break combined with early season fertilizers helped push consistent shoot growth throughout the vineyard. Due to the warm spring we saw bloom two weeks earlier than normal (5/15). Weather was perfect during fruit set and the vines set a generous crop allowing us to work with plenty of fruit and gave us the ability to thin the crop load accordingly. The season continued to stay warm during the berry formation and berry ripening periods and harvest started 9/27 in blocks 1 and 3C. Harvest continued until 10/27 and finished in block 2A.
The 2012 Growing Season
The 2012 vintage experienced a dry spring, summer and fall, with ideal weather during the bloom and good weather during fruit maturation. The grapes were harvested between 10/19 and 10/22, before the first fall rains.
Overall the vineyard produced 10.5 tons of grapes of which only 6.4 tons were used to make the Zakin Estate.