2015 was another in a line of drought years for Napa. Starting in the winter months, due to the scarce amounts of precipitation and warm soil temperatures, the vines came alive and we experienced bud break for both of our vineyards very early on, around mid-February. May was unusually cool and the flowering period carried on for almost the entire month which resulted in a smaller than average set.
The summer months saw a substantial influx of heat, with over 20 days above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The tiny amount of winter rainfall combined with above average temperatures resulted in an earlier-than-usual harvest (October 4 for the Ciminelli Vineyard) and, unfortunately, extremely low yields throughout Napa Valley.
Throughout the growing season we watched the vines develop as best as we could imagine at the Ciminelli Vineyard. When it came time to pick, our decision was informed by the flavor complexity we found tasting the fruit in the vineyard, waiting for peak development. Both cluster size and individual berry size were small from the Ciminelli Vineyard, which increased the skin-to-juice ratio and has given the wine multi-faceted complexity and intense concentration. Although our quantities were small, we are thrilled that the quality of the wine from the Ciminelli Vineyard is nothing short of exceptional.
Whereas the 2013 vintage was marked by its tannin profile and 2014 by its transparency of underlying terroir, 2015 is marked by the generosity of fruit. Yields were down dramatically in 2015. First, cooler than normal weather during flowering and fruit set limited the berries per cluster. Second, dehydration at the end of the growing season due to the high temperatures further reduced cluster weights.
As a result, for The Grain, quantities were about 55% of normal but the fruit we did get was fantastic. This site has always provided wines with great structure and tension. With vine age, we have been getting more intense savory notes, and in 2015 we have a perfect balance with the intense fruit forward profile the growing season provided.