I’ve found that a successful harvest is not just one with excellent quality wines, but one where you have successfully navigated the inevitable chaos. Every year I put together a game plan and it only seems to hold together for the better part of the first day! With the weather, scheduling and availability of a picking crew, you have to expect the unexpected.
The harvest of ‘18 has some outstanding wines and it was a late ripening year with just a few lots picked in September. In the first week of October, it became chaotic, in the space of 5 days I took in Pinot noir, Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc, and 2 lots of Zinfandel and Syrah from 4 different vineyards. I had plans for keeping every lot separate and experimented with some estate Syrah. I added whole clusters of grapes into the fermenter (it adds an herbal lift to the aromatics and also adds structure) but we didn’t have enough tanks or space. More Syrah came in from Rossi than expected but it was a very small harvest at Shumahi so one fermenter had some of each vineyard. After fermentation was completed it soon had to be blended with the whole cluster lot and with 3 vineyards blended together it became the basis for a Sonoma Valley Syrah.
Serendipity seems to be a wonderful thing and the wine needed just a barrel of Estate Syrah to become this wine. While I might imagine that the Rossi fruit gives the structure, the Shumahi the sweetness and the Estate gives the aromatics, the blend works particularly well. Medium bodied and complex, it will accompany many different foods and is a wonderful expression of Sonoma Valley, of Syrah, and the 2018 vintage. I expect it will continue to improve for another 5 years.