2020 Vintage, other than smoke

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Russell Bevan
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2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#1 Post by Russell Bevan » October 15th, 2020, 11:22 pm

Here we go, something other than smoke, from my perspective.

2020 is the darkest vintage I have ever made. The intensity is off the charts. If winemakers didn't use a light hand they will end up with tannic monsters, if they backed off, this will be a stunning vintage.

The five days without sunshine was brutal, but the major impact then was caused by the lack of photosynthesis. Many vineyards that had no impact from smoke instead shut down as they didn't know how to handle the lack of UV penetration and acted as if the growing season were over. I lost two vineyards because they shut down even though they had no smoke issues.

Canopy management played an huge role in the overall quality of the vintage. Many people, including me, picked vineyards before they normally would and if they did not opened up the canopy and expose the pre-verasion grapes to sunlight the wines could end up being very green. Early on Peter Cargasacchi lectured me about early-season sunlight and me made me a total convert. If you can provide late season dry wind and/or heat mitigation via shade cloth, misting systems or overhead sprinklers, etc... opening up a canopy is a difference maker and 2020 will prove it.

I made only 50% of what I made in 2019, but what we did make will be special.

My sugar conversions were lower than ever before. I usually go by the standard glu/fru divided by 16.83, this year, over all my lots it was around 19.3. Additionally Cabernet Sauvignon fermented like Pinot, we had to work to keep it from going dry in under a week.

Eat drink and be merry,
Russell Bevan
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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#2 Post by Bdklein » October 16th, 2020, 12:13 am

Thanks for posting!!!
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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#3 Post by Ryan A » October 16th, 2020, 2:54 am

Great info- thank you for posting. Glad you and the team are safe.
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Paul @bbott
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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#4 Post by Paul @bbott » October 16th, 2020, 3:53 am

Gavin Quinney has an excellent article on the 2020 Bordeaux harvest available for all to access on Jancis Robinson’s website. Looks like another potential hot,ripe harvest for those that enjoy that style.

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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#5 Post by D@ve D y r 0 f f » October 16th, 2020, 7:18 am

Great to hear from you, T. Rex! And thanks for the interesting and informative post. Working with Mother Nature as your business partner presents a baffling array of challenges and choices that we mere drinkers can barely begin to appreciate. [cheers.gif]

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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#6 Post by Steve Crawford » October 16th, 2020, 3:49 pm

russell-thanks for the update and congrats on the new label/project. we'll have to catch up soon.

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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#7 Post by Adam Frisch » October 16th, 2020, 4:46 pm

This harvest almost broke me, and its still not entirely over. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Every moment is catch-up, dealing with emergencies and no sleep. My family hates me and thinks I need to quit this foolishness. I have at moments thought of doing exactly that!

But.

The fruit looks great. Yield is down a lot as the vines didn't know if they were coming or going, but what cropped has looked amazing. I think it could be a really good vintage, if we can just get past the stressful memories. And I should add - I had it easy compared to those who lost their vineyards to fire or smoke. My hearts go out to them. [worship.gif]
Last edited by Adam Frisch on October 18th, 2020, 2:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#8 Post by Alexander Smith » October 16th, 2020, 4:50 pm

Great to hear some positives from Napa, Melka has made too many comments to the press,yet I have spoken to Spottswoode, Groth, Dalla Valle and Russell who have all said they are making 2020 wines
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D@vid Bu3ker
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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#9 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » October 16th, 2020, 4:53 pm

Thanks Russell. Based on your impressive track record I trust your judgement.
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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#10 Post by Aleks V » October 16th, 2020, 5:30 pm

Adam Frisch wrote:
October 16th, 2020, 4:46 pm
This harvest almost broke me, and its still not entirely over. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Every moment is catch-up, dealing with emergencies and no sleep. My family hates me and thinks I need to quit this foolishness. I have at moments thought of doing exactly that!

But.

The fruit looks great. Yield is down a lot as the vines didn't know if they were coming or going, but what cropped has looked amazing. I think it could be a really good vintage, if we can just get past the stressful memories.
Sorry to hear Adam, hope things go well and look forward to trying some more of your wine. Will definitely try the 2020 vintage.

@Russell - thanks for the update! Great to hear somewhat decent news out of Napa.
Oy-V3y

Russell Bevan
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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#11 Post by Russell Bevan » October 17th, 2020, 10:53 pm

David D and David B,

Great to hear from you gentlemen, thank you for the replies.

It's crazy, but Falcon Crest lives. 2020 is not worthy for some to make wine from their. sites, but it is legend in others. I've lost respect for some wineries, please don't ask, and have developed a huge level of respect for others.

If I can get a few winemakers I respect on board, I want to host tastings, a year from January and show people the majestic qualities of 2020 before we go to bottle. I hope others will woman/man up.

Do not gentle into that.......

tu amigo,
Russell

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DavidChang
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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#12 Post by DavidChang » October 18th, 2020, 6:25 am

Russell thanks for the update and happy to hear that you and your team are safe. Cant wait to try the 2020s!

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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#13 Post by Fred Scherrer » October 18th, 2020, 9:37 am

Russell Bevan wrote:
October 17th, 2020, 10:53 pm
David D and David B,

Great to hear from you gentlemen, thank you for the replies.

It's crazy, but Falcon Crest lives. 2020 is not worthy for some to make wine from their. sites, but it is legend in others. I've lost respect for some wineries, please don't ask, and have developed a huge level of respect for others.

If I can get a few winemakers I respect on board, I want to host tastings, a year from January and show people the majestic qualities of 2020 before we go to bottle. I hope others will woman/man up.

Do not gentle into that.......

tu amigo,
Russell
Russell, I'm glad to year about your observations. I agree with the color/concentration potential as we were progressing toward harvest. Yup, the plants were confused and I harvested a lot of things quite early because the plants were 'done.' I see more 'non-fruit' elements in the fruit this year than usual, which is fine by me. They'll be more interesting.

Here in Sonoma County, the terrain, air patterns, etc. are so complex that it appears to me that we will have the entire spectrum of quality to look forward to.

I was the only winery that harvested PN from one nearby vineyard. I didn't wait around for lab tests that would come too late and that the results, if in the grey area, wouldn't really tell me anything a bucket fermentation wouldn't. That particular wine is looking just great and I scratch my head about why fear and ignorance drives so many decisions. Yes, taint can surface over time. So, I'll keep my eyes on it.

I'm so glad to hear of your successes.

F

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Roy Piper
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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#14 Post by Roy Piper » October 18th, 2020, 12:49 pm

I made the usual amount of wine, for although one vineyard did not pick, I picked up another vineyard that was dropped, as an experiment.

So far not noticing taint but past experience with 2017 tells me it tends to show up more after malo. I just went to barrel a few days ago.

I think (other than the potential taint) it was our third straight excellent year, at least on the valley floor and lower hillsides. Skins were thicker and that led to more concentration. Agree with Russell that alcohol conversions were lower for me, although they have been trending lower for a few years now, but this year was even more than usual.

Vineyard management really was the key factor in delivering the goods in 2020. If taint does not show up, there are gonna be a lot of really angry vineyard owners out there.
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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#15 Post by larry schaffer » October 18th, 2020, 12:57 pm

Down here in Santa Barbara County, it's been an excellent vintage as well. The extreme heat spike we experienced a few weeks back was not a 'positive', and did cause raisining on the sunny side of vines of earlier ripening varieties, but all in all, the quality and intensity has been great thus far. Yields are down in most of the vineyards I work with, but there's enough to go around.

I know that this vintage will have an asterisk next to it by many for many reasons, but I'm hopeful that most will see beyond this and realize a) there will be vineyards in areas that have shown to have smoke taint that are not affected and should be given attention and b) areas like Santa Barbara County were not affected by smoke at all.

Cheers.
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Re: 2020 Vintage, other than smoke

#16 Post by S. Rash » October 18th, 2020, 1:11 pm

Thank you Russell for starting this post and your perspective. With all of the negative and horrible things talked about and focused on, this is the type of post that is needed! Thank you for the view point from the inside. Thank you for your input as well Adam, Fred, Roy, and Larry. I cannot wait to taste your wines for the 2020 vintage
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