It was a year of heat waves and cold spells, but in the end we had a fast, furious, and very good harvest. We started picking September 4, quite a normal date, and we continued on every day except for Sundays – non-stop! Good yields, great quality, and the fermentations are progressing smoothly. The fires came after everything was harvested, but we felt for those who suffered from the devastating Kincade fire, northeast of us.
If last year’s was the shortest and hottest harvest in history, this has been the longest and most temperate – it actually can be labeled as a “normal year”, imagine that! We started September 5 and picked Russian River Valley Pinot Noir until the 13th; then we went on to harvest Chardonnay and Albariño Sept. 15, until October 4; and the Sonoma Coast Pinot came in between Sept. 19 and 29, with ideal sugars and ripeness.
This was the shortest and hottest harvest in history – we started August 29 and picked Chardonnay, Albariño and Pinot Noir during 17 days non-stop, including Sundays! Just as we were expecting a late harvest, a heat wave in late August ripened the fruit and the problem was to gather it all before the sugars got too high. But the team exceeded our expectations (as they always do) and we were elated with the quality of every grape that arrived at the winery.
Except for the fact that yields were way below average, 2016 was a sweetheart of a harvest. The fruit came in looking beautiful every day, with exciting flavors, and sugars not high at all. Fermentations, all of them with our own indigenous yeast, are clean and progressing well.
2015 was a record breaker in many ways, all due to the erratic weather – we had the earliest harvest in the history of the winery, the coolest May on record during flowering and fruit set, and the driest and hottest August and September, crucial months for the harvest of our grapes.
2014 handed us a pressure-cooker of a harvest, the most condensed in memory. We started August 30 and went non-stop through September 24, except for three Sundays out of four - we were done in 3½ weeks! The yields were excellent, as was the quality of the fruit. And this is our third consecutive great harvest - we never had three wonderful vintages in a row!
The 2013 growing season was as close to perfect as a worried farmer could hope for: outstanding quality, nicely sized grape clusters, and very good yields. But this year was especially hectic. We picked fruit in various blocks at both of our vineyard sites practically non-stop for a month.
Though we faced a long and late 2012 harvest, with powdery mildew that meant dropping a lot of fruit, our spirits never sagged because the fruit looked fabulous from the beginning. Mild weather throughout the growing season meant more hang time; then a warming trend in early October helped ripen the grapes and enabled them to reach their full potential.
It was a harrowing harvest preceded by a difficult growing season. We encountered challenges all along the way: a cold spring that showered us with untimely rain, bringing us late bloom and fruit set; a cool summer that resulted in high pressure for powdery mildew and early botrytis; a shortage of manpower at harvest; and in the end, dramatically reduced yields. But thanks to our team's valiant efforts, we were able to successfully address each of these challenges. We believe 2011 will turn out to be a vintage of excellent quality, with low-alcohol, good acid and well-balanced Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that will age gracefully for a long time.
The 2010 growing season was cold and challenging, one of the most difficult on record and disastrous for many northern California's vineyards. For us, the silver lining was that the long hang time allowed mature flavor development and, being a small estate focused on quality, we were able to turn our 20th year into a vintage of sterling quality from both of our organic vineyards.
This was our 19th harvest at Marimar Estate and, looking back, I am struck by how much more erratic and challenging harvests seem to have become. In the 2009 growing season we faced rain, followed by cool weather, followed by heat waves - all presenting trials for our team. For awhile, because véraison came late, we expected a late harvest, around mid-September - but instead it arrived September 2. And to top it all off, almost all the fruit in our vineyards ripened at once!
This was a mercurial season. After unprecedented spring frosts, we see-sawed to an intense heat wave in late August that prompted us to pick quickly and, for the first time, at night. Fortunately, these challenges were balanced by the beautiful fruit we brought in!
Harvest 2007 was picture perfect in our vineyards. An early heat spike ripened the fruit just when it was needed and a cool down allowed the grapes to be picked at a leisurely pace, giving us exceptional fruit. In the 17 years since the first vines were planted, we have never seen a harvest where the fruit in every single block of the vineyard looked so good!