2022 Harvest in Review
2022 was another extremely dry year. The warm and dry winter made for an earlier start to the growing season compared to 2021. The spring was dry, mild, and very windy. The summer was also mild through August, but the beginning of September brought an extreme, long heat event, putting harvest into full swing quicker than expected. The whites, some of the rosé, and some young Syrah fruit were picked during a hectic, almost unbearably hot week.
The combination of the very dry winter and windy spring set the stage for a smaller than normal yield, with the shoots and clusters being smaller than average and the wind causing damage to the flowers, creating poor fruit set. The heat event, along with the usual threats of pest, bee, and bird damage, made the crop even smaller.
The heat event in September really shaped the harvest. The vines hanging the remaining fruit shut down for the rest of September, and we saw little development in ripening and flavor. After a period of recovery and milder temperatures, we saw the vines starting to work again on ripening the crop. With the low yields and a few mild heat events, the remaining fruit ripened fully and was crushed throughout October, luckily dodging some rain events which could have further impacted the crop. The harvest ended in the first week of November.
One thing was clear from the first boxes of fruit to arrive on the crush pad: yields were going to be low for 2022. While the fruit that came in looked gorgeous and had achieved perfect ripeness, there was simply much less of it. Chardonnay and Viognier blocks returned half as many boxes as we’d seen in the abundance of the 2021 vintage. Unfortunately, this trend continued throughout harvest and across both of our vineyards. We ended up with lower production in 2022 than we’ve had in years.
These low yields are disappointing for us, but we’re happy to report that the quality of the remaining fruit was exceptional. As the resulting wines have ended fermentation, we’ve been blown away by the flavors that came out right after pressing.
Heat damage, pests, and some pest-borne problems with rot all contributed to this low-yielding vintage. Much fruit was dropped by our vineyard crew. When we crushed our final boxes of Grenache in November, we had to carefully sort through it to make sure there was no rot in the bunches, which saw even more fruit cast aside.
As the resulting wines have ended fermentation, we were blown away by the purity of the fermented juice that comes out right after pressing. The roller-coaster weather of the very dry growing season has led to wines of pronounced richness and elegance. The Viognier was unusually creamy and forward, and we have been astounded by the velvety texture and concentration of fruit to come from our Cabernet Sauvignon. This will be a classic Syrah vintage for us, and we are going to have a lot of difficult decisions to make with how to blend the final wines as the quality is so high, but the quantity is lacking.
Quality is high but volume is low. This was our smallest vintage since 2015 but our hope is the wines turn out to be as excellent as the 2015 vintage!
Nature has a way of balancing things. 2021 was our highest-yielding vintage ever. Thanks to that bounty, we will be able to distribute wines more freely than ever before. We will have enough wine to bring 2021 Cuvee le Bec to new markets and shops across the country, allowing us to share our wines with new communities. In 2022, the door swung the other way, and we are going to have to spread what wine we have further than ever before. We’d recommend stocking up on some extra of your favorite wines from the 2021 vintage and ordering early when 2022 wines are released. They will sell out quickly.