The 2014 winter season saw less than expected rainfail, but was followed by late spring rains, leaving us fully saturated soils as the growing season began. It was clear early that 2014 was well ahead of previous vintages with widespread early bud break occurring the first week of March. With pleasant spring temperatures, aside from a few sporadic rains, we saw the first signs of flowering in early May and the Estates enjoyed a final substantial rainfall around the same time followed by clear skies, providing stable weather during bloom. This led to a great set and, despite the concerns most growers in California had over the drought, we were fortunate to have cool weather for the majority of the summer greatly minimizing a need for irrigation.
The heavy summer fog patterns developed in early July and we even had a little bit of rain towards the end of the month that helped the vines push into the final weeks of the growing season. Veraison was well established throughout the vineyards by the end of July and the first few weeks of August were consistently sunny and warm, bringing us to the verge of harvest. In the earliest harvest since the vines have become mature at the estate vineyards, picking began in some of the favored blocks on August 18th at our Sea View Ridge Estate vineyard and August 20th at Camp Meeting Ridge Estate.
Just as it looked like we were ready to begin picking in earnest, a five day period of dense fog descended on the estate vineyards (giving us our last final scare of botrytis) and then lifted on August 27th with the advent of a north coast heat wave. Our vineyard team was ready to go and, remarkably, we picked the entirety of Pinot Noir at both estates in a furious week finishing on September 3rd. Similarly, we we witnessed a nearly identical five days of thick fog that lifted on September 9th as we were ready to begin picking the estate Chardonnay. Having had a few days of rest, our vineyard team pushed through another week of very warm weather, finally picking out the last of the estate chardonnay on September 17th.
In comparison to 2013, we began picking at the estate nearly a full week earlier in 2014. However, due to the period of fog, we actually finished picking the estates a little bit later than the previous year. Furthermore, the entire growing season started about 10 days earlier than last year, so in most cases, our estates fruit went from bloom to harvest in a little more than 105 days, longer than in 2013.
The quality of the vintage is exceptional given the early concerns about the dry weather throughout the state. Concentration and color of the wines are vibrant, the acidity is wonderful, and the complexity of flavors is exciting. The hard work of our vineyard team deserves most of the credit, as they once again coaxed beautiful fruit out of the difficult and challenging extreme Sonoma Coast. They weathered chilly midnight picks and warm mornings to pick the estate grapes at perfect ripeness. The winery team was also up to the challenge of a fast and furious harvest, working long days to process the grapes into tank and ferment them to barrel. In these challenging years, it’s wonderful to work with a dedicated team who knows their craft!
-Dave Keatley, Winemaker
Flowers Vineyard & Winery