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Categorized | California, General

Sojourn Cellars Update

 

 

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SPRING 2012

2010 Vintage Review – How We Made 95 Point Wine!
Sojourn was fortunate to receive 95 Point Ratings from The Pinot Report for two of our new 2010 Pinot noirs — on our Sonoma Coast and Sangiacomo Vineyard bottlings. Our other 2010 Pinot noirs also received high ratings, ranging from 92 – 94 points. Recently, Wine Spectator asked us to comment on the 2010 vintage. It gave us the chance to reflect on the vintage and rediscover which viticulture and winemaking steps we followed to acheive our success.
Our 2010 Vintage Review is below for you to peruse at your leisure. We have also refreshed your allocation of these wines available for purchase now through May 11th.

View Your Allocation and Buy Wine »

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Erich’s 2010 Vintage Review

The 2010 vintage is one of my all-time favorites. While the 2010 growing season tested our nerve and winemaking acumen in many ways, the resulting Pinot noirs have exceptional character and finesse. Sojourn Cellars makes wine from a wide geographic range of vineyards within the Sonoma Coast: Annapolis, Green Valley, the heart of the Russian River Valley and the Petaluma Gap. We preach the merits of meticulous attention to detail in the vineyard, and we spend considerable time and energy in each vineyard to ensure only perfectly ripe grapes make it into the winery. In 2010 we were able to achieve desirable ripe flavors and concentration at lower alcohol levels. The resulting wines are more balanced, nuanced and earth-driven than any wines crafted by Sojourn to date. They express site in a more dramatic fashion as well. Our Sojourn single-vineyard wines are distinctive; each expressing unique personality and terroir, with a consistent thread of Sojourn’s signature, silky mouthfeel.
The weather in 2010 was historic. Spring was very cool, causing late bud break and slowing the maturity of vines early on. Summer 2010 was one of the coldest on record in the North Coast of California. The grapes ripened very slowly, with veraison occurring 3 to 4 weeks later than normal for most Pinot noir vineyards. A light rain hit September 19th. This event did not immediately have a considerable impact, other than to increase disease pressure and put us all on alert. It appeared we could be in for some tough decisions as the growing season was getting late, and most of our Pinot noir blocks that remained on the vine were at 19-20 Brix. Many growers and winemakers chose at this point to open up their canopies by pulling most or all leaves in the fruit zone to maximize sun exposure and allow greater airflow to combat disease. Unfortunately, this left clusters vulnerable to sunburn and desiccation in the face of a significant heat spike that occurred in late September with 5 straight days of temperatures reaching over 100F in Graton. Many Russian River Valley and coastal vineyards were severely impacted, and winemakers were faced with dropping large quantities of desiccated fruit and/or draconian sorting in the winery. A second, extended heat wave came in mid-October, with four straight days above 98F from October 12-15, followed immediately by rain. All Sojourn Pinot noir was picked prior to this second heat spike and rains.
Unlike the warmer 2009 vintage, during early 2010 many vineyards experienced extended spring fever, with yellowing, stunted canopies that lasted for several weeks. Additionally, we observed leaf burn above the clusters and at shoot tips. We had not seen this phenomenon before, and Rhonda Smith, the UCCE Farm Advisor, confirmed that it was due to a nitrogen disorder that is more common in cooler Pinot noir growing regions. Symptoms included curling of the small leaf blades due to a darkening of the center leaf vein that prevented the vein from elongating and causing the downward curl of the blade. Botrytis was evident on the impacted leaves; however, this apparently was not a causal agent. The vines eventually bounced back once the weather warmed in the early summer months, and we saw above average lateral growth. Flowering was impacted by the cool weather as well, and rain and high winds caused more shatter than normal. The crop set light, with small, loose clusters and small berries, and resulted in a 20% reduction in Pinot noir crop from normal levels in many of our vineyards. The average lbs/vine picked for our Sangiacomo vineyard Pinot noir was 4.5 in 2010 versus a 5.5 lbs/vine average for 2006-2008. 2009 was also a light vintage at 4.1 lbs/vine from these same blocks. Cluster counts seemed normal in most cases; however cluster weights were lower, resulting in lower average lbs/vine.
Average Brix at the end of veraison were higher than normal, often approaching 20 Brix within a week of veraison completing. Sugars developed slowly from there with continuing cool weather. We picked our first Pinot noir grapes on Sep 15th at 23 Brix from a block of young vines within Wohler vineyard near Forestville in the Russian River Valley. The flavors and tannins were ripe, and this became the backbone of our vineyard designate wine from Wohler vineyard in 2010. This same block was picked 5 days earlier in 2009 on Sep 10th at 25 Brix.
After the September 26 – 30 heat spike, geographic sub-region came into play in a significant way. We considered buying more fruit from the Russian River Valley since the vintage was coming in light. While searching for the right fruit, we visited one particular vineyard along Piner Road that looked like it had been hit with a blow-torch. Virtually every cluster was fried. Other sub-regions were better off. The cooler Annapolis region was barely impacted — our Ridgetop Vineyard fruit did not experience any sunburn and showed very low levels of dehydration. More significantly for Sojourn, our vineyard sources in the Petaluma Gap (Sangiacomo, Gap’s Crown, and Rodgers Creek) fared very well in the 2010 growing season. This region experienced lower disease pressure due to high winds and a lighter fog layer. It was not necessary to open vine canopies significantly, and the vines remained protected from the sun during the intense heat spikes. In fact, the extended heat wave helped flavors and tannins mature and sugars accumulate in the Petaluma Gap, and we were able to pick out our remaining vineyards on our preferred time line by mid-October before the next round of significant precipitation.
In a few vineyards, black mold and, in some cases, botrytis impacted about 5% of the crop, specifically attacking desiccated berries hit by the heat wave. The impacted fruit was mostly dropped in the vineyards prior to picking. Sojourn cluster-sorts all of our Pinot noir fruit, and we sorted out some rotten clusters from two vineyards that were particularly impacted by the heat and also experienced more fog and damp conditions. We did see some desiccated fruit in the winery from a few vineyard blocks, and in these cases we performed a secondary berry sort with a shaker table to separate out the dehydrated berries and raisins from the desirable ripe berries that we fermented to create our 2010 Pinot noir wines.
I am very pleased with our Sojourn 2010 wines and am thrilled to share them with you!
– Erich Bradley, Sojourn Cellars Winemaker

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