This time of year the rains arrive unexpected but wholly welcome, like friends. At first, you’re reminded of your last chance encounter, and say things like, “It’s so nice,” and “Well, well, well,” and there is a little dancing in the rain when no one is watching. Later, the shadows grow and the evenings settle dark and chilly. In the mornings a blanket of cool mist hangs in the air. You can feel the weight of your life, the moment of your existence, which is to say your truth.
Many of our friends and guests passing through the tasting room have been asking what the vintage was like. In some ways the nascent wines typify the aggressive growing season: an extremely short winter followed by an extreme drought through spring. They are ripe, without question, and the tannins will need time in barrel to soften, and perhaps some coaxing, but we are excited about them—especially since it is the first time we’ve produced all of our wines under our own roof.
We could not go on without another word about the drought, which shifted the harvest forward, and the fires in Napa, Sonoma and Lake Counties, which brought so much loss to so many. Thankfully (for once) neither affected us. To stay ahead of sugars many people were picking their white grapes at the end of July, and some completed all their harvests by the end of August. As in many years, we waited. This waiting hasn’t become an easy thing to do where once it was. The vin d’avant garde (s’il vous plais) of California winemaking is to pick early. You find this repeated in the world of wine today from Jon Bonné’s The New California Wine to Bruce Schoenfeld’s New York Times piece The Wrath of Grapes.  But we did what we have always done — not the easiest thing — we waited, because we felt it was especially important this year to allow the seeds and stems of the grape clusters to lignify, which will produce softer, more concentrated wines, with fully ripe mid-palate structure. We believe you will be impressed with the results.
As the wines have finished fermenting and have been pressed and readied for aging there is a feeling of what Martin Heidegger would have called Gelassenheit – a feeling of releasement, or “calm composure.”  These wines are like our children. We have done everything we can for them. Their paths in life, and ours, etched lightly in the future, like students who have recently accepted admissions to college, “the world stretched out before us not as a slate of possibility, but as a maze of well-worn grooves like the ridges burrowed by insects in hardwood.” 
By contrast, 2012 was a classically beautiful growing season. It was lazy and beautiful and calm and sort of quiet and harvest extended later and later. That year we were making Cabernet Sauvignon from two different vineyards just across the street from each other: one in Rutherford on the north side of Skellenger Lane and one in Oakville, on the south side. When a rainstorm appeared on the horizon and everyone scrambled to get all the fruit in as quickly as possible, we picked 13 tons of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon within a week.
The Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville, our featured wine for November, comes from young vines grown in a deep composite gray clay soil with tiny, bright blue berries. We harvested by hand on the afternoon of October 22, and manually sorted and fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel for twenty-eight days. One barrel of Merlot from the Oak Knoll District was blended in (10%), and the wine spent thirty months in French and American oak barrels, 60% new. We produced ten barrels of this wine – two were chosen for Crosby’s Reserve and we bottled 207 cases from the rest. The wine is layered and refined. We love the balance of fruit and tannin in this wine, which displays notes of blueberries, mild dried herbs, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar.
Juliana & Sean
UPCOMING EVENTS: Crusher Wine District Wine Hopper Weekend: November 7-8. Tickets available.