2007 was a very good year for whites and an outstanding year for reds.
The winter was uncommonly mild, leading to concerns of an early bud break with greater susceptibility of frost damage. Fortunately for us, March temperatures were well below normal, thus delaying bud break. We experienced temperatures well below freezing during the second week of April, but most buds were still relatively dormant and escaped damage. Spring, and in fact the entire growing season, was very dry, with slightly above average temperatures. There was enough rain to keep the vines healthy, however it became apparent the crop levels needed to be thinned down early as shoot growth was slow, with short internode lengths. Most vineyard blocks ceased shoot tip development before veraison. It was at this point that we knew that 2007 was to be a potentially special vintage.
With the exception of powdery mildew, there was very little disease pressure. Fungicide sprays were greatly reduced. Insects, including Japanese beetles were of little concern. Because of their competitive nature, cover crops were more aggressively mowed as they competed with vines for water and nutrients. A two-inch rain on in the third week of August was beneficially refreshing to most varieties with the exception of the early ripening Seyval, which did experience some sour rot. Harvest began with Seyval in late August, about 10 days earlier than normal. All the whites (except late harvest Vidal and Petit Manseng) were harvested under warm, dry conditions in September. Fruit condition and maturity was good, except for concerns about lower than normal acids. The resulting wines have good concentration and are more fruit driven than mineral based.
A three-day cold snap in mid September led us to begin pulling more leaves in the reds in order to get more warm sun on the clusters, but October continued the trend of warm, dry conditions. There were some concerns about excessive sun exposure on the recently exposed clusters, but the sun was low enough in the sky to avoid sunburning. Red grapes were harvested during the first three weeks of October under near perfect conditions. Picking decisions were difficult in the sense that our hand was never forced by the threat of rain. As our West Coast colleagues see on a regular basis, sugar accumulation outpaced skin and seed tannin maturity. Most reds were ultimately harvested with very high sugars (25 to 26 brix), which makes us nervous about high alcohol in the wines. Yields were low, averaging 2 to 2.5 tons per acre, but quality was beyond anything I have seen in 28 harvests. Because of the small berries and thick skins, extraction during fermentation was gentle with light punch downs once or twice a day. Whites are big and fruit driven, probably showing best after just a few years of aging. Reds are showing well when young and should have a long life.