2013 Harvest Recap

Nicholas De Domenico Bleecher, Second Generation Jericho Canyon Vintner

Coming straight off the heels of a near perfect 2012 vintage, the Napa Valley 2013 harvest has proven to be another prime example of a superb year for Napa Valley, and one I can look back on as comparatively stress free. Unseasonably warm spring weather provided an early start to the growing season, one complete with the classic Calistoga hot day/cold night dichotomy with temperature swings of up to 58 degrees. Coupled with the lack of rain in the fall and a continuation of the summer warm spell, the 2013 wines should be giving the 2012’s a run for their money.

Harvest 2013 couldn’t have had a more auspicious start. After taking countless early morning berry samples, we picked the Sauvignon Blanc on September 3rd in absolutely stunning condition. With Block 15 a stone’s throw from the winery, we brought the fruit in still cold from the early morning Mayacamas fog. Now, with the fermentation complete, the wine is already rich with tropical aromas of pineapple and lychee. Our winery intern, Chris, characterizes the nose as “white gummy bear.” Though we will keep it in barrel for another 4 months, aging sur lie to develop the appropriate supple mouth feel, it is already delicious.

2013′s early growing season brought an entirely new experience to our harvest here at Jericho. Normally, we barely manage to ripen the fruit as the canyon’s fall days become shorter and cooler. Year after year, the fruit has ripened in time to beat winter, but there is always an unsettling sense of uncertainty that goes with any farming. But in 2013, we experienced none of that.

The fruit development was so advanced that we picked the first lot of Cabernet on September 16th – a Jericho Canyon record! Though only a small lot, it was a great indicator of the harvest to come. We picked our To Kalon clone from the House East block, the small block behind my parent’s house, and fermented it in 2 separate new French oak barrels. Once pressed and put back to barrel, it yielded only 30 gallons (the equivalent of 12.5 cases), but 30 precious gallons they are!

The remainder of the harvest was condensed, and we worked long, wet, cold nights that often culminated in even colder harvest beer toasts. Running a three-step berry sorting table at only three quarters of a ton per hour, we spent hour after hour removing the jacks and selecting only the perfect berries. With such meticulous fruit processing, we were all excited October 15th, our last Cabernet pick.

Purple cracked hands, wet Blundstone boots, and indelibly stained white t-shirts aside, what a beautiful vintage 2013 was, is, and will be. Still not fully barreled down, Aaron Pott jokes that we should be done by New Year’s Eve. We’ll see.


Let me know your harvest stories and what you thought of the vintage at nick@jerichocanyonvineyard.com