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Vineyard Update - Mid-August 2023

This has been an extremely technical year so far, but 2023 is shaping up to be a high-quality year for all the 20+ varieties we grow. After a very long Indian summer in 2022, vines took a little longer than expected to shut down and begin dormancy. We had a very cold dormant season, with deep freezes in late December and again in late February. Luckily, that didn’t affect our old plantings much, but we saw some damage in a few newer plantings that were not yet hardy enough to tolerate the cold temperatures.

We started pruning in early February, as usual, expecting typical budbreak timing, but weather was not at all average this spring. During the entire month of March and most of April, daily high temperatures were consistently below long-term averages. Budbreak this year was behind that of 2022, which was already 2 to 3 weeks behind a typical year. In terms of growing degree days from WSU, during April and the first two weeks of May, we were matching 2011, which was one of our coolest years recorded in WA state history.

Things changed dramatically mid-May with really high temperatures that put us quickly on track to a warmer year, surpassing 2021, which was one of our hottest recorded years. Vines reacted immediately to the warmer weather with phenomenal shoot growth, reaching full size canopies a few weeks post bloom. We had a great fruit set on a crop that’s looking to be 10 to 20% lighter than average, depending on the site, and certainly enough leaf to fruit mass ratio to ripen our crops without major issues, if weather ahead allows it. We are now past veraison in all our varieties and have finished fruit thinning in all our reds and are now starting our white varieties. (We like thinning whites post-veraison to carry more fruit mass and extend their hanging time.)

So far, 2023 is overall a bit cooler than 2021, but with higher diurnal shifts and without the extreme 110+ degree heat waves like there were in 2021. Vines so far are healthy, with low rot pressure, an average to light crop, and great canopies. If weather ahead remains within the normal range, we are looking at a high-quality vintage that should result in amazing wines for all our varieties. We are very excited about this harvest; our vineyard crews have been working non-stop to have all our vineyard sites in an amazing condition, and now we are just a couple weeks away from making the best out of this fantastic, unique terroir. In the next 2 weeks, we expect to begin harvest for sparkling and since we are looking at a warmer year, we will probably begin harvesting whites mid-September and reds starting in October.

Cheers to the 2023 vintage!

Matías Kúsulas, Winemaker & Viticulturist

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