To review, in January, February, March we experienced biblical levels of wet – parts of Napa got almost as much rain as the last three years combined. This was followed by a mostly chilly, damp, foggy spring. No clear weather pattern developed; we swerved from nice and warm one week, back to cold and overcast the next. On June 11th, we had our second wild, out-of-the-clear-blue, thunderstorm, complete with roiling black clouds, arcs of lightning, and accompanied by leaf stripping, marble-sized hail. In the half hour preceding the hail, temperatures dropped 14 degrees. Then several days of seasonal temps, before starting to climb the thermometer. On June 18th, we hit 106 degrees. On July 7th, we hit 106 degrees, again. Our Syrah party on July 15th had to be moved inside because temps were hovering at 99. Some of the landscaping looks like it’s been blow-torched, and the high temperatures are following us into August, which is often our hottest month.
This zigzag of 2017 weather effect is on full display in the vineyard. Our chilly, damp spring has produced Chardonnay (right side of picture) in small, tight clusters hardly bigger than my fist, but the Merlot (left side of picture) looks splendid and is abundant. In this recent heat spell, it has started veraison, and we’ll be able to drop all the fruit we want, cherry-picking the best clusters. Those clusters are twice as long as the Chardonnay, and very loose in structure. Rains won’t create rot overnight in such loose berries. The Chardonnay won’t be as lucky.
In any case, this is the last opportunity to squeeze in any quiet time before the frenzy begins. And there’s only one thing to do when temperatures make the asphalt too hot for flip flops – it’s a perfect time for a time OUT! So, open up some nice, chilled white wine. Maybe a bottle of our bubbles? And if you haven’t already taken off for the cool Maine seacoast, or maybe Olympic National Park in Washington, just fill the baby pool with cold, cold water, add ice cubes if you want. Pull up your favorite patio lounger, drop your feet in. Enjoy the apex of summer, before the race to harvest begins.