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Does Vintage Matter?
May 1st, 2015
Peggy Fiandaca

Did you know that if a wine does not have the vintage date printed on the label it probably includes wine produced from grapes picked from multiple years? A vintage date on the label refers to the year the grapes were harvested and in the U.S., Canada and Bordeaux, France wine must be made with at least 85 percent of the grapes from the harvest from that vintage to carry a vintage date. In other parts of the world, the regulations vary regarding the percentage of grapes required from one vintage.

At Lawrence Dunham Vineyards, vintage is very important to us. Primarily because we are pioneers (grapes have not been grown in this area before) and establishing a historical record is critical.

In addition, LDV is a terroir-driven, estate winery which means that we are trying to make the best possible and highest-quality wine from the grapes we harvest each year.

We are not trying to replicate a certain wine from year to year.
   Lawrence Dunham Vineyards

Curt tending to the vines

Many large production wineries keep some wine in reserve from a vintage to blend with the next year to ensure the consistency in wine style and taste. If you are a bread baker, you know the importance of a “starter” to a terrific sourdough bread. There is nothing wrong with this approach, it is just not our approach to winemaking.

Frost Damage at Lawrence Dunham Vineyards

Frost damage impacts 2012 Vintage
  What the vintage also reveals is how the weather during the growing season of that year impacts the grapes and ultimately the wine.

There is no one more obsessed with the weather, other than a professional meteorologist, than a wine grape grower.

Recently, it was reported that many vineyards in the Sonoita/Elgin area in Arizona lost their crop because of frost after bud break.

There are at least three other major weather emergencies that keep wine growers up at night and impact a vintage. Hail during the growing season can do substantial damage to the grapes as well as the canopy. This happened at LDV in 2009. Right before harvest, rain can be a real problem causing bunch rot and mildew in the grape clusters or hindering the ripening process. Large heat spikes can also impact vintage quality. Grapes like to have consistent weather patterns during the growing season and high temperature spikes can impact the flavor and character of the grapes.

The growing-season is in full swing with the arrival of May and threat of frost behind us. The grapes are beginning to flower which will pollinate and form the grape clusters. Now until October there will be a lot of restless nights and watching the weather as the 2015 vintage unfolds.