When it comes to telling the story of the 2022 vintage, the narrative for To Kalon Vineyard is quite different from that of the rest of Napa Valley in some respects. Across Napa Valley, 2022 will likely prove to be a phenomenal vintage but it certainly wasn’t a typical vintage.
Overall, we had a dry winter that was marked by two significant storms in October and December that brought most of the rain we would see for the entire season. While the annual average rainfall for Napa Valley is closer to 30-35 inches, we only received 23 inches of rain in 2022.
When it comes to our farming philosophy for To Kalon Vineyard, we say that we like to farm with soft hands and to produce fruit that is not overly manipulated. The lack of rainfall in 2022 meant that we had to be thoughtful, meticulous, and more hands-on in our canopy management to ensure that the fruit was adequately protected as it ripened. Luckily, we had near-perfect growing conditions over the summer – it was mild, with a few hotter days in June but otherwise temperatures were consistent.
Those short stretches of warmer weather stressed the vines just enough to push them to shift their energy from growing their canopies and pushing out leaves to ripening fruit sooner. An earlier ripening usually sets us up for an earlier harvest, though that ended up not being the case.
This restricted canopy growth focused the vines’ energy on fruit set and development – which was beneficial to the overall quality of the fruit but it also resulted in lower yields – about 20% less than average. The vines produced smaller clusters with smaller berries and less berries per cluster, yielding intense concentration and complex flavor development. One of the hallmarks of the vintage will almost certainly be a beautiful balance between texture and freshness.
Towards the end of summer, we had a long stretch of warmer weather that resulted in greater concentration in the fruit and pushed much of the vineyard towards more mature brix levels without tipping over into over-ripe territory. After a 10-day heat spell in September, the weather cooled and allowed for a long, slow, and methodical harvest with long pick windows that gave us the opportunity to pick each block at optimal ripeness.
Our winemaker Andy Erickson called out the wide range of flavors that he was delighted to find in the blocks we harvested from To Kalon Vineyard this vintage – a result of the long pick windows – and likened it to painting with a full palette.
While Andy is optimistic about the vintage as whole, he is especially excited about the Cabernet Franc that we harvested for our Eliza’s cuvee. The fruit had a signature savory and spicy character that Andy is confident will make Eliza’s a standout in 2022. All three of the wines from the 2022 vintage will be unique, given the nature of the vintage, and Andy looks forward to sharing them with you in a few years.