The 2020 Grape Growing Season November 10, 2020 14:00

VINTAGE 2020 is over.
Harvest has ended. 

Clean crusher.

All my crushing equipment is clean and put away. 

This is my lovely stemmer. Sparkling clean.

Whew! What a year.
Here is a short recap.

Spring was ideal. Late rains fed new vine growth but did no harm to blooming grape clusters.

grape clusters changing color from green to purple

Perfect full grape clusters were set on all my Rhone varieties. They went into veraison looking beautiful. My anticipation was for a classic normal year after having years with lower than average yields. “Looking good!” was how I explained the crop for 2020. The fruit was beautiful and abundant.

Purple grape clusters in a green canopy of leaves.


 August brought on a “Heat dome” with an extended 7 day period of extreme heat. This kind of heat spell never lasts this long. It usually ends in 2 days with fog.

Thermometer reading 110F

The heat was brutal. The humidity was low.

The long days of dry heat sunburned clusters and leaves.Dry grape leaf


Plume of smoke rising from the distant hillside.

Along with the heat, thunderstorms on August 17 came with dry lightning igniting hundreds of fires. I was greeted the morning of August 18 with a plume of smoke from the new Wallbridge fire, 4 miles away in the western hills of Dry Creek Valley.  Ensuing smoke was moderate here because of the wind direction so it did not get into my grapes. Firefighters battled and kept flames from crawling down the ridge into the Valley.

Airplane tanker dumping red fire retardant on Wallbridge Fire.

High heat arrived again in September.  The grapes were not getting ripe, they just continued drying up and getting more sun burned.  

Episodes of smoke from various fires kept me on edge.
I was worried about my grapes.
Bill Frick with a worried expression.

It is difficult seeing beautiful grape clusters wither away on the vine.  I harvested my early varieties. They tasted and looked good. Viognier was harvested before the fires.  Eventually a few weeks ago in late October I decided not to pick the remaining grapes, about half of my crop.  They were too beat up by the heat and low humidity and possibly compromised by repetitive smoke influences.

I made less wine than I would have liked this year. Tasting after fermentation I can say that the wines I did make will be excellent.  They will have compelling stories to tell about this trying year.
Panorama of vineyards and hills tinted orange with wildfire smoke.
Dry, hot, thunderstorms, fires. The word that defines this year is SCORCHING.
The 2020 Grape Growing Season is over. It is cool now with some early morning frost. Vines are going into their winter dormancy with beautiful fall colors. I am enjoying cool weather. Toasting 2020 with a bottle of Mourvedre and looking forward to barreling the new vintage.
Glass of Mourvedre wine.
Onward and upward Cheers!