Notes from the Winemaker

Before we get into the harvest notes I would like to introduce myself, Harry Parducci Jr., Winemaker for Agajanian Vineyards and Wine Company.

First a little bit of my history, I have been working in the wine industry as a 3rd generation winemaker, winery and vineyard owner for over 35 years. I cannot remember a time not running around the winery as a kid or otherwise. My family owned Valley of the Moon Winery in Sonoma from 1939 through 1996, a lot of history there.

From 1996 on, I worked for various wineries in Northern California from 8,000cs to 650,000cs as head winemaker. Gary and I have been working together in a business capacity for over 10 years and this opportunity presented itself making wine all over the state for Agajanian. I am glad to be on board working with Gary and the team. Now I know you are thinking, “Hmm? Parducci? He must be related to the Parducci’s in Ukiah.” Well, I am not related. Even though our families come from the same region (Lucca, Italy) and we both work in the same small industry, there are no family relations that either of our families know of, now on to the important stuff.

Summarizing the 2016 harvest is that it was typical as far as a grape harvest goes, which is to say it was different from any other harvest year. For me this is the truly exciting nature of being a winemaker, every year brings new challenges and opportunities. Overall, the harvest had a moderately long time-frame for Agajanian. First, wine grapes started in mid-August and ran into late October only to be cut short by fall rains. Grapes could have had some additional hung time out in the field in the North Coast, but you take what mother-nature gives you and say thanks. Each year we always have some twist and turns as we progress through the different varietals. If you were to look at the harvest on a graph it would look like two waves: one at the beginning where grapes were mature and had to come in at a furious pace, followed by a short lull then back full swing until the end. Some small powdery mold out-breaks here or there, but nothing to get really worked up over considering some late spring and late summer rains.

Crop projections this year were all over the board. Some vineyards had more fruit than expected and others had less. Our vineyard managers were throwing up their hands halfway through the harvest saying, “well it looks like X tons but don’t hold me to it”. Overall, the harvest looks to be 5% to 10% down, which compared to last year, it is significantly higher than the 30-40% down for 2015.

This year will be remembered as the grapes being sugar ripe but not quite flavor mature, so we needed to just hold back and wait. That is a very hard thing to do during harvest, especially with our growers calling morning, noon and night saying the grapes are “ready to go.” However, patience would be rewarded at the winery delivering well developed flavors. The e The2015 harvest was marred by fires throughout the state, for the most part 2016 harvest was not affected to the same degree. We had some fires in Carmel Valley and, to a lesser extent, in Monterey County. These fires resulted in some burned and smoke damaged fruit, but fortunately not to the magnitude of last year.

Overall the harvest is showing very good quality in early tastings. The wines are showing excellent concentrations of aromas with excellent depth of color and flavors. Usually there are one or two varietals that really stand out: this year it is Pinot Noir. We harvested fruit from all regions in California and I am very pleased with the results. During harvest, you can sometimes get an immediate sense of how the wine will develop and Pinot Noir was the star this year. Looking back on my notes every time I tasted, I commented to how well they were showing.

Chardonnay is another varietal which showed well with good, solid aromatics and fruit forward flavors. Since this harvest was somewhat extended I am still wrapping up the late wines going through ML fermentation and these are not just reds! We also have some interesting small lot varietals available for you to try such as Mourvèdre, Dolcetto, Grenache Rose and Viognier which turned out very well ask for them early before they are gone.

In closing, I am glad to be on board with Agajanian and here’s to another exciting, successful and as always interesting 2016 harvest and looking forward to 2017!

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