The 1997 vintage was one that had Napa growers smiling from ear to ear. They brought in a large crop of excellent quality, with 144,000 tons harvested compared to an average of 121,000 tons over the preceding decade. The optimum growing conditions over the summer and through the harvest produced wines that are superbly concentrated, dense, rich, and powerful yet balanced.
The growing season got off to an early start with bud break coming a month early in the warm late-winter and spring conditions. The vines seemed to shrug off a little rain that fell in early June. The summer was warm but not too hot, with one heat spike in early August, followed by moderate to cool temperatures, to slow ripening. September conditions were excellent — the grapes had a long period of ripening without any heat spikes, allowing growers to wait to pick at optimum ripeness. It is one of the greatest vintages of the decade, with wines that are firmly in their prime today. They have incredible extract, depth, and structure, with solid, dense fruit centers to match.