|People ask us what was going on in the vineyard and the weather each vintage that affects the differences in flavor. This chart shows weather conditions and other factors for each growing season. Some seasons were wetter than others; some warmer or cooler. It is interesting to consider how these variables have influenced the wine!
We grow premium Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir with exquisite attention to quality so as to produce the very finest wine. The wines we produce reflect our high standards in the vineyard, as well as one of the best locations for growing Pinot Noir in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a prime growing region for this luscious winegrape.
Despite the drought we had 44″ of rain over the winter rainy season, from late Oct. into April (including 17″+ in March alone!). With so much moisture in the soil vine vigor was high and they thrived.
Spring: Budbreak started mid-March. A heat wave that brought daytime temps up to 96 degrees precipitated bloom (nighttime temps dropped into the low 40s). Bloom in the Pinot started early June (about June 10), and set came on quickly. Once the heat wave was over normal mode returned, with daytime temps in the 70s and low 80s and nighttime at about 40, even dropping into the 30s.
Summer: Veraison started about July 24, a little later than the previous few years. Ed and the crew netted July 28-30.
Harvest: Our first harvest date for the Pinot was Aug. 23. We will pick again the first few days of September. Temps have cooled and nights are chilly, allowing for longer hangtime.
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Historical Vintage Summary
2003: This was our first vintage. Ed and Mary picked the entire harvest themselves, which was only half a ton from the first acre+ planted that bore fruit. Soquel Vineyards blended half the wine into a Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir and the other half was bottled under the Muns Vineyard label. Grape tonnage increased rapidly in succeeding years as the vineyard matured and additional acreage came on line.
2004: About four tons were harvested from four acres and again the wine was produced by Soquel Vineyards. 125 cases were produced as a Muns Vineyard designate under the Soquel Vineyards label and another 125 cases under the Muns Vineyard label.
2005: Almost twelve tons were harvested from six acres with five tons going into the Soquel Vineyards label as a Muns Vineyard designated wine. The other seven tons went into a Muns Vineyard designate wine on three labels produced by Silver Mountain Vineyards: Silver Mountain Vineyards, Sonnet Wine Cellars and Muns Vineyard. Tony Craig, of Dave Bruce fame, made these three wines.
2006: Nearly 24 tons were harvested from seven acres with 10 tons going to Soquel Vineyards and 14 tons crushed at Silver Mountain Vineyards for the same three labels as in 2005. This was an abnormally large yield, as it was for many California vineyards, due to abundant winter rains that produced record cluster sizes.
2007: Fruit set this season was been superb, but nature presented some challenges. Two nights in April produced 25 degree temperatures a large low area of the vineyard where over a acre of fruit and even some vines were lost. Later in the season, dehydration further reduced the crop. Over 16 tons were harvested on 4-6 September all going to Silver Mountain Vineyards for production under three labels: their own, Sonnet Wine Cellars and Muns Vineyard.
2008: This is the first year all vineyard blocks are producing–twelve acres of Pinot Noir and one acre of Syrah. Pinot Noir was harvested from 29 August to 2 September, our earliest. The yield is our lowest ever at around 1.5 ton/acre. Vineyards across the state are reporting much lower cluster weights, so while it looks like there is a lot of fruit, there really isn’t. 3 tons of Syrah was harvested the third week of September.
2009: This vintage was like 2006 in terms of yield. With the entire vineyard now producing, we harvested 36+ tons of Pinot Noir and 2 tons of Syrah. We had lots of winter rain and a somewhat cooler growing season. This resulted in first irrigation in August, compared to April in 2008 following a drought winter. Harvest was the latest ever for this vineyard, during the third week of September for the Pinot Noir and the first week of October for the Syrah.
2010: The winter leading into this season was even wetter than 2009, but the rain came in measured amounts so there was minimal erosion and maximum absorption into the soil. Bud break was delayed due to consistently cool spring temperatures and no frost periods occurred after bud break, a first for this vineyard in ten years! The summer continued to be relatively cooler than normal, so the season extended to our longest yet. On 17 September we harvested 4 tons of clone 115 for sparkling Pinot Noir at 19 Brix. On 1 October we harvested 6 tons of all four clones for our estate Pinot Noir at 25 Brix. We felt the rest of the vineyard (30+ tons) could still use some more hang time to ripen the flavors even more, so we postponed harvest for another week or two. We ultimately harvested 49 tons of Pinot Noir by the end of October and after three rains. On 3 Novembe we harvested 4.2 tons of Syrah.
2011: Yet another winter with lots of rain that has extended into early June. This cool spring has stalled growth with shoots just 12-18″ and bloom not started. This is probably good because heavy rains can disturb bloom and reduce fruit set. The foilage is lime-green in color, indicating the inability of the vines to take up nutrients in cool temperatures (50-60 degrees F). At this point we are 2-3 weeks behind normal development and looking for warmer weather to allow the vines to take off for the season. The season finished out relatively cool and we harvested only 19 tons of Pinot Noir on 8-10 October. The cluster weights were deceptively light so yield was about half expected. 3.5 tons of Syrah were harvested on 29 October.
2012: The year started out with little rain, but then a deluge in March and April brought the total rainfall for the winter season to 35″+. It snowed on March 18. Bud break was the latest ever in late April, but bloom and fruit set caught up to our typical season (bloom starting early June, set finishing about June 20). Veraison started late July in the Pinot; about a week later in the Syrah. There were a lot of Pinot Noir clusters and fruit-thinning was needed to balance the crop with the vegetative growth. 45.1 tons of Pinot Noir were harvested from 10-24 September as the blocks each reached optimum ripeness and 3.2 tons of Syrah were harvested on 1 October. This was the start of 3 years of exceptional yield.
2013: This was a very dry Spring. We had 25″ of rain at the end of 2012, but only 5″ of rain at the start of the 2013. Budbreak occurred early April; bloom in mid-May (with a little rain at this time). Set started mid-June; and then we had a heat spell. Veraison was early August. We started the Pinot harvest late August (per a client winery’s request); although most of it was harvested early-mid September. Total = 40 tons. 3.5 tons of Syrah was harvested Oct. 3. This was the second year of three years of exceptional yield.
2014: Budbreak started about March 15; bloom about May 10; set about April 30; veraison about July 15. We started harvest Aug. 19 (per a client winery’s request); although most of the Pinot was harvested late Aug. up until Sept. 10. Total = 42 tons. 3.5 tons of Syrah was harvested Sept. 16. This was the third year of exceptional yield.
Spring: Budbreak commenced earlier than normal around the last week of February, when we did final pruning. Unfortunately, there were several frost nights in March when temperatures dropped to the low 20s at night in the low basins of the vineyard. All green growth was lost in those areas, about an acre’s worth overall.
By late April, shoot growth averaged 18″ and the first round of “shoot tucking” began to position the shoots within the catch wires and hold the shoots vertical. The vineyard aisles were mowed for the second time. The fescue had reached 4-5′ in height for the second time this winter/spring. The vine rows need to be tilled to work the covercrop into the soil and expose the trunks for suckering.
A few instances of flowering were observed in early May and bloom is expected to be in full swing by mid-May, although temperatures have dropped again so that will slow things down. In fact, development all but stopped with 10 days of foggy, drizzly weather. Not much more happened until the end of May when temperatures rose a bit, peaking in the low 70s. At this point, there are plenty of nice large flower clusters, but successful fruit set will determine the season’s yield.
Summer: May was unusually cool with morning fog many days. This prolonged bloom from 10 days to over a month. Fruit set was mostly complete by the third week of June, about 2 weeks later than normal. However, veraison began mid-July, the same as the prior two years. Bird netting was installed at the end of July. Harvest of the first blocks could come in the second half of August as it did in 2013 and 2014. Yield is forecast to be down due to less than ideal bloom and fruit set.
Harvest: The first Pinot Noir harvest was 17 August, the earliest ever. These are blocks that ripen earliest and the receiving winery wanted fruit that was less ripe. Thus, the next harvest day didn’t come until two weeks later on 31 August. The rest of the Pinot will come out during the first two weeks of September. The Syrah will harvest at the beginning of October. The Pinot Noir yields are running about half normal, due to a long cold bloom period in May when the flower fertilization was poor, resulting in much less fruit set