With the 2016 vintage safely in the barrel and now undergoing malolactic fermentation, we have time to step back and reflect on the season. It’s too early to prognosticate about “vintages of the century” but it was certainly a good one.
Before we get caught up in planning the holidays, and maybe another tropical vacation, here’s a summary of the 2016 vintage on Diamond Mountain and, by inference, in the Napa Valley. After two years of drought it was good to get back to near average rainfall here in the Napa Valley with both the Napa and Russian Rivers approaching flood stage in the biggest storm of the season. Bud break was early for Cabernet Sauvignon and the buzz was that we were going to have an exceptionally early harvest. There was no frost here on Diamond Mountain and the vines grew fast with good soil moisture and sunny days. But it turned out March was warmer than May, and the concerns turned to the possibility of a small crop due to cool, wet weather interfering with bloom and set. The summer was mild, with more foggy days in August than in recent memory, leading to much slower ripening and longer hang time. A heat wave arrived in late September, pushing us to harvest on September 26, only slightly earlier than usual for our site. The yields ended up being just a little less than average for us, and all in all this looks like the kind of season we can correlate to past vintages resulting in excellent wine quality: mild season, long hang time, slow even ripening. We are feeling quite lucky to have had a succession of five favorable vintages in a row.