A cool, persistent spring was the beginning of the weather problems that would plague the 2011 California harvest, pushing back bud break to make the grapes almost three weeks behind schedule. May and June had heavy rains, and the summer heat never really spiked. Pinot noir and chardonnay seemed happy with this weather, and many producers were able to pick elegant, low sugar grapes before the main vineyard event of 2011: October rain.
En route to the first Chardonnay Symposium the city of Santa Maria appeared in all its incarnations. Hosted at Bien Nacido Vineyards’ historic Adobe, the morning began, like most in this winemaking region, wrapped in tangible veils of fog.
The many storied wine regions of Northern California experienced a harvest this year that was in one way, ideal and in another quite anxiety-inducing. Fruit growth was delayed this year by a cooler spring and summer, but the overall temperatures were predominantly even across the board, allowing for long hang-time and good even ripening in the vineyard.