Time flies when you’re having fun, and suddenly, it’s harvest! We asked our longtime winemaker, Dave Crippen, to give us a preview of vintage 2012.
“The last couple years – 2010 and 2011 – were atypically cool in Amador County, so picking began later than normal. This year’s growing season has been more conventional, except for a notably dry winter and significant late-spring rainfall. Since early June, we’ve enjoyed a wonderfully consistent weather pattern of dry, mild, seasonably warm days with just a few heat spikes. We like “mild” at Renwood because at our 1,700-2,000 foot elevation, we get plenty of sunshine from April through October with warm-to-hot days tempered by refreshingly cool nights (courtesy of evening breezes flowing down from the Sierras). In contrast, California’s costal wine regions experience warmer winters and early springs, and thus enjoy an earlier start to the growing season. Ripening in those vineyards, however, slows during the summer months due to a persistent layer of marine fog that penetrates coastal wine valleys most evenings and usually doesn’t burn off until mid-day.
“In Amador, we have fewer overall sun days, but the sunlight here is more radiant and intense, which quickly accelerates ripening. As a result, grape growers in Amador have to guard against vine heat stress and grape sunburning, which can be exacerbated by a lack of adequate soil moisture. Despite these perennial concerns, everything is looking good in our vineyards right now, with our red grapes starting to color up – what the French call veraison – and our whites looking like they’ll be ready to pick by early September. (Our first reds should be harvested by mid-September.) In short, barring unforeseen shenanigans by Mother Nature, we’re looking at what could be a most excellent harvest at Renwood and throughout Amador County.”
We’re not big on tooting our horn here at Renwood, but sometimes, it’s hard to resist. At the recent California State Fair Wine Competition, the granddaddy of all American wine judgings (nearly 2,900 wines from 688 wineries were evaluated), Renwood won 11 medals: golds for three of our 2010 zinfandels (Timberline, Gold Crest and Dry Creek Valley); silvers for five more (Boucard's, Reserve Dry Creek Valley, Grandpere, Premier Old Vine and Fiddletown); and bronzes for 2010 Old Vine Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel and 2010 Clarion, our Zinfandel-Syrah blend. These sterling results were not an aberration. At the 2012 SF International Wine Competition, the largest in the land with over 4,500 wines from 1,300 wineries, we took a double gold medal for our 2010 Gold Crest Zinfandel and golds for three of our other 2010 zins: Boucards, Dry Creek Valley and Old Vine Dry Creek Valley. Our 2010 Grandpere, Reserve Dry Creek Valley, Fiddletown and Premier Old Vine zinfandels garnered silver medals while we notched bronzes for 2010 Clarion and 2010 Timberline Zinfandel.
Other highlights of the competition season included a double gold/best of class award at the Amador County Fair for 2010 Timberline Zinfandel (along with golds for our 2010 Grandpere, Gold Crest and Boucard's zins); a double gold/best of class for our 2010 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel at the El Dorado County Fair (along with a gold for our 2010 Fiddletown Zinfandel); and a gold at the Long Beach Grand Cru for our 2010 Timberline Zinfandel.
As you can tell, we’ve gone a little medal-crazy, but what better place for a winery to strike gold than in the heart of Gold Country?