Fall: Vintage 2022 and the Heat Wave
Every harvest brings a new set of challenges, and over the decades I’ve seen it all. Rain, smoke, hail, heat — the weather brings endless surprises and every change influences the product of the vintage. This harvest has been fast, furious and hot!
August kicked off a heat wave in Paso Robles that just wouldn’t quit. Heat waves, particularly experienced after back-to-back drought-like winters, are a definite cause for concern. We enjoyed multiple 110+ degree days this harvest, which threatened to burn vines and can instantly desiccate grapes, turning plump fruit to raisins. Thankfully, our vineyard’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean provided cool nighttime relief from this stifling heat. The true challenge was the pressure to work as quickly and as diligently as possible to stay ahead of the worst periods of heat to harvest the fruit while it was at its best.
We worked our way around the vineyard from block to block, bringing in our first bins of Syrah in late August. Quickly thereafter, we picked the Grenache, Mourvèdre, and finally Carignan over three intense weeks. I worked steadfastly and up-to-the-minute to make the best decisions for our fruit and vines. Thanks to our location and every micro decision, our vines stayed healthy during the most extreme heat days, suffering no excessive heat damage to the fruit or vineyard. Our last day of picking the Thibido Estate was September 13, 2022.
My friend and fellow winemaker, Scott Hawley, procured some of the Thibido estate Syrah and Grenache for his Torrin wines; we met several times on the estate to walk the vineyard and determine picking times. He said, “You have something really special here with this vineyard.” We’re thrilled to share our fruit with several local producers this harvest; Torrin Wines, McPrice Meyers, TOP Winery, and Peachy Canyon Winery.
You have something really special here with this vineyard. Scott Hawley, Torrin Wines
Our 2022 Red Wines
The fruit is now in the winery and working towards its next steps. I’m excited to shepherd our 2022 vintage grapes into bottle over the next few months and years. Our Syrah has nearly completed its fermentation, and is comprised of 50% whole cluster and 50% destemmed fruit, introduced to our concrete tank to ferment. Minimal intervention along the way has allowed for a nice, slow fermentation. I anticipate pressing this lot in the next few days.
Our Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Carignan are in their initial phase of a cold soak. We cold soak by chilling the fruit in its fermentation vessel for a few days to ensure early extraction of the grape skin for color, flavor, and aromas. These fermentations should start soon! They will get a punch down two to three times per day, depending upon the stage of fermentation. With the heat wave of the 2022 vintage, these wines are sure to be bold and bursting with ripe fruit.
Our 2022 White Wines
Our white wine program took a new turn this vintage. Inspired by our beautiful Grenache Blancs made in the amphorae from 2020 and 2021, I decided to try a new grape varietal this year. The Vermentino grape is a rare and deliciously complex grape originating in Italy, with a very minimal vineyard footprint in California. These Vermentino grapes will develop into a very special wine released in the spring. The Vermentino fruit was welcomed into the winery in early September and went straight to the press; the juice was transferred to our amphora tank. It is now slowly fermenting in the clay pot and bubbling with delicious aromas.
In the coming weeks and months, we’re focused on pressing, settling, draining, and barreling down our wines. We cannot wait to see what develops and, of course, to introduce these wines to all of you.