Vol 6: 2020 Harvest Update
“As for this harvest, what is there to say?”
~ Yannick Girardo, Seven Apart general manager, on the tumult of 2020
The Journal | Vol. 6
2020. The year that wrecked everyone’s nerves. It’s been complicated, with the positive note of our allocation release mixed with the stressors of the pandemic and wildfires. Thankfully, everyone at Seven Apart is safe and healthy, and for that we are grateful. We hope the same for you and your friends and family.
Working in a Pandemic…
“The vines don’t stop,” said Seven Apart Winemaker Andy Erickson earlier this year. “We had to spread people out, but the work got done.” Armed with safety and health adaptations, we were able to execute a successful growing season, and felt positive with promise of what the vintage could be.
“We were really optimistic for this year and the fruit quality was amazing.” says Yannick Girardo, Seven Apart general manager. “In Stags Ridge Vineyard, on Atlas Peak, we installed some new irrigation throughout to better monitor the water needed for each vine, and we also started farming organically.”
We’ve also enjoyed the momentum of our first ever allocation release for 2018 Expedition, which took place in October. We sold out completely, and the excitement of sharing Seven Apart with wine enthusiasts across the world was truly rewarding.
But this was also a year of disaster. First, the LNU Lightning Complex fire burned across much of northern California’s wine growing region. It approached Stags Ridge Vineyard, dangerously close but without causing an immediate impact. With a bit more than two months left in the growing season, our team felt confident that we could avoid smoke taint. But unfortunately, there was more to come.
In late September, the Glass Fire sparked near St. Helena. It spread to over 65,000 acres, damaging nearby structures, including wineries, homes and restaurants. With it came lingering smoke over Stags Ridge Vineyard, forcing us to make the hard decision to forgo the harvest of this fruit.
“As for this harvest, what is there to say?” says Yannick. “With these conditions, we won’t be able to make wine from this vineyard for this vintage. It’s a disappointment, because Andy and his team were enthusiastic about the potential.”
Yet there is good news from Base Camp Vineyard, with this year’s harvest presenting “full of dark fruit, aromatic, classic Napa profile,” according to Andy. All the micro fermentations came back clean, which means that the winemaking team was able to monitor for smoke impact, and found none.
Andy estimates that the 2020 production will amount to around one-third of what would be a typical year’s harvest for our properties. Though the yields for Seven Apart will be much lower this year, Yannick says: “It will be some great wine that was clean, and not damaged by fire.”
Still, Andy encourages a sense of perspective. “Damage from the fire is much more localized,” he says. “A lot of vineyards in Napa were not near the fire and are going to produce some beautiful wines this year.”
It’s a reminder of the precious nature of our vineyards, making the anticipation for upcoming releases especially intense. 2019 Expedition—a blend of fruit from both Base Camp and Stags Ridge Vineyards—will be available this fall.
And there is more to look forward to in 2021, with the gradual release of three exceptional wines, all 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Stags Ridge Vineyard. Crafted to show the expression of this special spot, Summit, Shale and Basalt are micro-production, extremely limited in quantity and aged from 30 to 36 months before release. Those registered for Seven Apart’s allocation list will be kept up to date when these wines become available.
We hope that you’ll all have a bottle or two from Napa, as we drink in solidarity with our winery neighbors and friends. We look forward to sharing Seven Apart with you as soon as that’s possible.