After two small crops from the cooler and more challenging 2010 and 2011 vintages, California got on a roll. Both 2012 and 2013 were solid with large crops of very high quality grapes — goodbye, shortage! And as good as 2012 was, 2013 may end up the winner by a nose.
Spring was warm and dry, and bud break was early. This got the vines off to a vigorous start and flowering and fruit set went off without a hitch. A short hot spell towards the end of June into early July was the only note of concern, and the vines came into veraison early and in very fine shape.
The harvest was one of the earliest on record, beginning on August 1st for the whites. A little rain fell in September, but it didn’t seem to have much impact as sunny, drying conditions filled in after the rains and the vineyards dried out quickly.
Cool, sunny, and dry conditions prevailed through October and kept sugars and acids in balance, allowing for a little extra time on the vine for maturing flavors and phenolics and leaving a healthy, ripe, and concentrated crop ready for picking.
On the whole, about two weeks earlier than average, and a lot of growers are calling it a “near perfect” vintage — an even-tempered growing season that yielded a good-sized crop of small, concentrated berries. Beautiful weather with really no extremes and not too much rain has growers singing the praises of this excellent vintage, which produced another large crop of healthy, balanced fruit and very high-quality wines.
We give it a very strong buy recommendation, as these are wines many believe will rival or even surpass the 2012s — high praise for sure! Big, powerful reds; bright, lively, and rich whites. Pinot Noir was a particular success in most regions, with optimum ripeness and very good acidities too. The only real concern is the persistent drought conditions, with growers hoping for rains to replenish badly depleted groundwater.