Despite a second consecutive year of drought, and nerve-racking memories of some similar challenges in 2015, the 2021 Napa Valley growing season produced what are proving to be great wines. Yields were tiny for the most part, because many vineyards just didn’t have the water resources to develop the full canopy necessary to ripen a typical load of fruit. You really had to be paying attention to get fruit to the finish line in good shape, but the reward was excellent quality across the board: small berries teeming with tannin and flavor.
The lack of groundwater to mitigate irrigation was naturally a chief concern, especially in a hillside vineyard with little soil to speak of. But like the Policy Estate Vineyard, the Melanson Vineyard is cordon pruned, which allowed the vines to conserve resources and stood them in good stead through the season’s challenges, despite the fact that they grow in stony ground. Vine maturity in the blocks we pull from also helped. The dramatic reduction in fruit that we saw valley-wide didn’t apply here—yield from this site was about average.