The third wettest April on the record books led to a very erratic, delayed bud break. Poor weather at bloom caused significant shatter and tiny yields. Unusual weather continued through the summer with sub-tropical moisture periodically streaming overhead. Fortunately, despite plenty of impressive lightning shows, rain stayed to the east of Sonoma. Coming into September, fruit was running about 2 weeks behind normal. Two heat waves - the first on September 12th, the second on September 20th - led to significant dehydration and a spike in sugar. Since berries had not reached optimum flavor maturity, we continued to wait. Sugars receded somewhat after the second heat wave and with nearly unprecedented beautiful, dry October weather, we continued to let the fruit hang. In the end, 75% of our fruit was picked during the last two weeks of October, the last on October 30th, right before the first rain of the season.
Resulting wines from 2003 are deeply colored and quite powerful and flavorful. However, with higher than normal skin to juice ratios during fermentation, they also posses more structure than usual. Many wines will be long-lived.