Link to the growing seasons: 2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008
SUSTAINABLE WINEGROWING PRACTICES AT WEST WINES
All our grapes come from our own vineyards in the heart of Sonoma County, California. We believe in responsible agricultural practices such as minimizing the use of energy and water while building out our capacity of solar power. We use cover crops between our vine rows to create nutrition for the plants but also flowers who serve as a habitat for beneficial insects for pest control.
WEST Cabernet Sauvignon is made from grapes grown in the lush, beautiful West Hillside Estate. It is located on the western hillside of Dry Creek Valley, north of the city of Healdsburg, in Sonoma County, California; therefore it is among the most western vineyards in the western hemisphere.
WEST Chardonnay and WEST Viognier are grown in gravel loam soils in our Creekside Estate next to Dry Creek in the cool end of the valley. The valley floor gives very consistent and vigorous crops. The appellation in the lower Dry Creek Valley has cool mornings and makes for long nice seasons.
Duff Bevill, Vineyard Manager
2003 Growing Season for Cabernet Sauvignon
This was a season that was filled with ups and downs. Bud break was early, but cool weather in March and April delayed development. In May temperatures warmed and the vines burst into growth. All this back and forth of temperatures resulted in Cabernet clusters that were looser and lighter and the harvest size was half of normal. The weather continued to be variable through the late spring and summer; foggy and cool became 100 F within a few days. In late August and early September there were even a few thundershowers, something rarely seen in Sonoma County. Warm weather and small crop size meant great intensity and flavor development. The 2003 grapes were picked late, on October 21st, with a mid-October heat spell providing ideal picking conditions.
2004 Growing Season for Cabernet Sauvignon
Record breaking warm weather in March got the growing season off to an early start, nearly three weeks ahead of a normal year. Early April brought cool weather and drizzle, then another recording breaking heat spell in late April. The vines were in full bloom at this point and the heat combined with low cluster counts (as result of cool spring temperatures in 2003) meant that the Cabernet harvest size in 2004 was destined to be small. May and June brought more warm weather, although July was cooler than normal with lots of fog. There was another warm spell in late August and early September, then the weather settled into a typical fall pattern of warm days and cool nights. This mild finish leading up to harvest on September 22nd allowed the Cabernet to develop good flavor concentration and ripe, supple tannins.
2005 Growing Season for Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon
Bud break was early this year. However, late rains continued into April, May and even June which slowed the onset of bloom. Because the soil moisture was high the vines grew large canopies and vines had to be shoot thinned as well as undergoing normal cluster thinning. The crop size was larger than average because the berries were a bit fuller than usual. The summer temperatures were mild and September was abnormally cold. October brought excellent ripening weather which continued into November. This allowed the grapes to have a long 'hang-time' without the sugar spikes that can come from heat waves. As a result of this hang-time the wines have delicious, rich flavors without quite as high an alcohol content as other vintages.
2006 Growing Season for Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon
This season was notable for its late start and late finish. Winter rains continued into early April so the vines started growth late but with the soil saturated with water. May was unusually warm and vines bloomed in early June with perfect weather conditions. The weather continued warm and sunny through June and early July. Then in mid July there was a ten day long heat wave with days of over 110 F. The vines did not suffer since they had gone into the season with lots of water in the soils. August and September were cool slowing the grape ripening. Ripening began to pick up pace when October arrived and most grapes were harvested by the end of October. There were no heat spikes during the harvest so the grapes were able to gradually ripen and developed great flavor and concentration as well as intense color for the Cabernet. The Chardonnay achieved a nice golden color and its flavor the right ripe intensity.
2007 growing season for Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon
The season provided low winter rainfall and a dry spring so vines faced dry soils as they began to grow. Bud break occured early in late March. The dry soils hastened vine development and resulted in early bloom dates in May. There was cool weather and some wind during bloom so clusters contained fewer, smaller berries. The summer was mild with a warm period in late June and early July. A hot spell in late August brought a rapid increase in sugars and harvest began two to three weeks early. Most Chardonnay was harvested in the middle to end of September. Cabernet soon followed in the middle of October. The quality was high with deep colored Cabernet grapes and intense flavors in all varieties. The smaller berry size resulted in lower crop levels but excellent quality.
2008 growing season for Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier
The growing season started early. There was unwanted frost in early May and heavy winds later. We were lucky to escape all frost damage in our vineyards. However, a warm summer and hot August helped harvest the white grapes very rapidly in early September and the Cabernet Sauvignon in late September. We noticed great flavor concentration in the grapes this season. This season also marked the first harvest of our third varietal, Viognier.