A Dream Come True | 2023 Harvest Report

“A dream come true. Harvest 2023 was an ode to nature’s splendor, coupled with the dedicated team at Seven Apart.”

It’s December. Though the vibrant golden hues of fall have faded, there’s a different kind of magic in Atlas Peak. The air is crisp, the bare Stags Ridge and Base Camp vines glitter in the winter sun, and the 2023 vintage is already aging in our Seven Apart cellar. With this year’s harvest complete, Managing Partner Yannick Girardo finds a quiet moment to reflect on the busy season that was.

The Perfect Prelude

The stakes are always high leading up to harvest. Flooding, fires, and frost are all in the deck. This year, Mother Nature dealt exceptionally generous cards. After a refreshingly wet winter and a mild spring, the vines thrived. “We had a perfect weather season leading up to harvest, which was a dream come true for any winemaker,” opens Yannick. Drought and warm conditions of the past 10 years have continued to push harvest earlier and earlier. But this year’s lack of extreme heat spikes during summer, a stark contrast to 2022, meant a slightly delayed yet fruitful growing season. “The stable weather meant that we could monitor the evolution of the grapes very closely, rather than having to be on standby for unfavorable conditions,” he adds.

Broadly speaking, the wet winter and cooler spring—among the coldest on record—set Napa Valley’s harvest back a few weeks. These conditions caused the grapes to flower later, necessitating more time for them to ripen on the vine. “While it hasn’t been a typical year weather-wise in that aspect, we’ve grown accustomed to drought, heat, and fires in the last 10 to 12 years. It was refreshing to experience the kind of climate Napa was historically known for. Evidently, we’d grown accustomed to earlier harvests; Mother Nature had led us into some bad habits, so to speak,” muses Yannick.

As fall rolled in, so did the rain. Rain in October could have spelled potential disaster with the increased risk of botrytis—a fungus that can be harmful to the vines if unchecked. Instead, after several years of severe drought, the abundant rains of 2023 provided much-needed relief to the vines. This rain was followed by a perfectly-timed heat spike in early October. “The heat helped raise the brix levels (sugar levels) in the grapes, pushing them to their peak maturity,” explains Yannick.

This year’s Seven Apart harvest spanned from October 5 to the 25. Over these intense three weeks, we successfully gathered a total yield of around 35 tons. As a result, we’re anticipating the 2023 vintage of Seven Apart to yield between 1,850 to 1,900 cases.

Although our Base Camp vineyard was recently replanted, the team was able to harvest from the northern block section, yielding roughly 1.7 tons from its 3.13 acres. The remaining 4.79 acres, grafted in May of 2023, will start to bear fruit in 2024, with the expectation to reach our targeted crop yield in the next two to three years.

Morgan’s Inaugural Vintage

As introduced last month here, 2023 marked a change of hands at Seven Apart, with winemaker Morgan Maureze taking over from Andy Erickson. Born in France, Morgan is a fifth-generation winemaker. With both of his parents hailing from winemaking backgrounds, it’s fair to say he was raised amidst the vines. “Quite simply, I’ve known I wanted to be a winemaker since I was very young,” he reveals.

Yannick notes that Morgan’s innate connection to the vine and meticulous attention to detail was evident from the start. “Morgan has been nothing short of a pleasure to work with and a true steward of the land.” According to Yannick, Morgan’s dedication is evident in his daily grape quality checks, ongoing communication, and hands-on approach to every aspect of winemaking. “To illustrate, our Vineyard Manager sent me an email expressing how commendable it was that Morgan was on-site for every pick—a dedication he hasn’t often seen from other winemakers he’s collaborated with.”

Apart from Morgan, the recent additions to the Seven Apart family have brought fresh perspectives and renewed commitment. Jorge Lopez, having worked on our wines alongside Andy for the past four years, now assumes the role of Cellar Master, forming a formidable team with Morgan. We also welcomed another addition to our team, Catie George, who has taken on the role of Estate Host with the goal of strengthening our hospitality offerings.

One For The Books

“It has been an extraordinary year. We’ve truly navigated numerous stages and milestones since our inception. In this industry, constant change is inevitable, whether due to weather or developments within each family-owned winery or organization. We couldn’t be more grateful for everything that has transpired,” remarks Yannick.

So, what is there to look forward to in the year ahead? Plenty! As 2024 nears, the eagerly awaited single vineyard wines are poised for release, marking a welcome end to a two-year hiatus. “Again, it’s a labor of love and patience. The last time we had Shale, Basalt, and Summit available was in 2022,” recalls Yannick. We paused releases due to the Glass Fire’s impact on our yields, but we’re thrilled to soon reintroduce these wines.

Harvests, like chapters, tell the story of a year’s challenges and triumphs. 2023 has been a testament to the resilience and dedication of the Seven Apart team. The upcoming vintage promises to be one that mirrors these attributes. “We anticipate the 2023 vintage will join the esteemed ranks of 2018, 2019, and 2021 – it’s one for the books,” ends Yannick.