Nov 2, 2012 7:15 PM by Jeanette Trompeter
Conventional wisdom suggests that in the vineyard there is usually a converse relationship between the amount of yield per vine and the quality of the fruit. Well winemakers in the Santa Ynez valley and Santa Barbara area say 2012 is a rare vintage that is offering both high yields and outstanding quality.
Usually, as yields increase, flavor development, as well as full and even ripening of clusters tends to decrease. However, after two years of weather related damage to vines, the growing season of 2012 provided near perfect weather which promoted overall vine health and vigor while producing a bountiful harvest of top quality fruit. "This year appears to be comparable to the 1997 vintage when we had an abundance of high quality fruit which, in turn, produced some of the best wines of the decade." says Jim Fiolek, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association,
Steve Pepe, owner of Clos Pepe Vineyards says the fruit this year is incredibly good. "Mother Nature gave us her best this year. Now it's up to the folks in the wineries to take it from here."
As the 2012 harvest winds down, Central Coast Winemakers from Paso Robles to Santa Barbara are celebrating what could become a banner year vintage. Norm Yost sources fruit from several vineyards for his Flying Goat label and says this harvest belies the myth that the best years are the odd numbered ones. "Everything I've brought in... fruit from Bien Nacido, Dierberg, Rio Vista... has looked perfect", he says. In fact, he says the Pinot Noir he received from the Rancho Santa Rosa Vineyard is the best he's seen in the ten years he has been working with fruit from that location. "The aromas and flavors have been beautiful right from the start. I have very high expectations for everything from this vintage."
The plentiful yields of high quality fruit this year are economically favorable for everyone from growers to the consumer. After two lean years, growers have more grapes to sell, increasing their bottom line. A plentiful supply keeps pricing reasonable for vintners so they can buy more grapes to produce more wine, which produces more revenue for them. And a plentiful supply keeps retail prices within reach of a broader range of consumers who appreciate premium wine. For more information on the vineyards and wineries of Santa Barbara County, click here.