Unveiling Excellence: 2021 Vintage and April Release Showcase
ANDY ROBINSON | WINEMAKER
I am thrilled to share with you the highlights of our 2021 vintage. The year started with minimal rainfall through late 2020 and early 2021, which led to reduced cover crop growth and a potential drought-affected harvest. We quickly incorporated cover crops to preserve what moisture we had in the soil and anticipated a long and nervous frost protection season until nighttime temperatures consistently remained around 50°F.
As the season progressed, we experienced seasonably warm weather throughout June and July with good marine layer influence in the evenings, except for a longer hot spell at the end of June into July. Fortunately, periods of intense heat were limited to around three-day increments, followed by a noticeable cool-down, while maintaining at or slightly above average. Although we were expecting an irrigation cut-off on August 3rd, we did not receive any official notices.
The 2021 Harvest arrived with a soft landing despite the limited water supply and eventual bans on irrigation throughout Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys. We experienced very few extremely hot days, allowing us to ripen grapes at a moderate pace without significant dehydration or loss of acidity. However, yields in some varieties were reduced due to low moisture earlier in the season, specifically during budbreak and bloom. But those reduced yields led to intensely flavored grapes, and the subsequent wines made from them oozed varietal character and vibrant mouthfeel.
Towards the end of harvest, Sonoma County was finally blessed with rain. This presented some decisions to be made with vineyards in cooler regions that had not been harvested yet. Fortunately, we escaped this rain with no rot, likely due to reduced crop loads allowing for airflow and quick drying of the clusters before harvest.
As we reflect on the past three vintages, we see notable differences in the resulting wines. Overall, the 2021 vintage shares some similarities with the 2019 vintage in terms of flavor profile and approachability, but with reduced yields due to low rainfall resulting in more concentrated fruit. In contrast, the 2020 vintage was heavier, with increased heat at the onset of harvest, and minimized new oak impact during fermentation.
In 2021, we focused on the purity of the fruit and elegance of Zinfandel without over-extracting during fermentation, resulting in intense and concentrated fruit flavors. We also reduced our new oak usage in 2021 based on our learnings from 2020, resulting in a more balanced and nuanced wine.
Our 2021 Keyhole Ranch Zinfandel is the first release featured in your April release. This release provides a bridge between the warmer AVAs of Dry Creek and Alexander Valley and the cooler Russian River Valley. The vibrancy of fruit and distinct red raspberry and briary character fleshes out the acidity indicative of Russian River Valley, while still capturing intensity in structure.
Next we have our 2021 Home Ranch Zinfandel, which is a masterpiece, exuding enticing aromas of sweet, dried sage, blackberry pie, and dark chocolate cherry cordial. A harmonious palate showcases luscious black cherry and graham cracker crust flavors, complemented by supple, velvety tannins that persist beautifully. Boasting a bold and complex character, this wine’s rich and robust finish is the epitome of balance.
Lastly, we are excited to present this limited and eagerly awaited 2021 Rockpile Zinfandel, a true sensory delight. It captivates the palate with an intricate medley of flavors, featuring earthy and spicy undertones, luscious black cherry, and savory hints evoking a subtle umami essence. Toasty nuances from French oak add further depth and sophistication. Upon the first sip, a bounty of generous fruit flavors greet the palate, showcasing the wine’s bold and fruit-forward personality. Textural, lingering tannins on the mid-palate provide structure and mouthfeel, while tightly woven tannins on the finish ensure a long, gratifying experience that endures in the memory.
The 2021 vintage promises to be extraordinary, yielding intensely flavored grapes that give rise to wines brimming with varietal character and vivacious mouthfeel. We eagerly anticipate sharing these exceptional wines with you and are confident they will surpass your expectations.