2016 Vintage Report
Whew! This was a year to be grateful. Following two Polar Vortex winters, the winter of 2015-2016 was mild, with the coldest night in our vineyards clocking in at a balmy 7 degrees above zero. The highly-stressed vines began to heal, and we were able to harvest a moderate-sized 2016 crop.
The mild winter gave the vines an early start, with budbreak in late April and early May. The inevitable late frost came on May 7, but wasn't severe enough to destroy most of the emerging buds. The remainder of May and most of June were perfect for rapid growth and successful flowering.
A mini-drought hit from late June through July, with no rain and temperatures in the mid-nineties. The vines -- still fragile from the severe winters -- stopped growing and struggled to get by. For the first time ever, by late July I started to see fall colors and leaf drop, so we began to water the driest parts of the vineyard.
August brought relief from the drought, with plenty of rain -- but along with the moisture came mildew pressure. This continued through September, with the rain producing a second flush of growth and early coloring of the red grapes. Harvest started early for Pinot Noir, which had developed a very dark, thick skin. Everything else came in late, with Riesling and Cab Franc the last to ripen in early November.
Avonlea Vineyard: From Snows to Crows
The winter of 2014 killed about half of our oldest and best Chardonnay vines. This tragedy will slash the volume of our barrel-fermented Avonlea Chardonnay for the next four years. The remaining vines produced well, and we anticipated a reasonable harvest -- right up to the moment that the grapes were eaten by a huge flock of crows the week before harvest.
Our original 1989 Chardonnay was planted on the very vigorous 3309 rootstock, at six foot spacing. We plan to replant with vines on a lower vigor rootstock and three feet between the vines. This more Burgundian approach should yield even more intense flavors. Our best Chardonnay is yet to come! In the meantime, we have supplies of 2011, 2012, and the new 2013 bottled, labeled and ready for delivery.
The Pinot Noir at Avonlea fared better and gave us a small crop of rich dark wine, as did our Cabernet Sauvignon. The Riesling produced very few grapes this year, but extraordinarily vigorous vine growth; we're expecting larger crops next year.
Coming Soon: Wines from the new vineyard
The acquisition of 100 acres south of Fennville in 2013 has let us expand our estate vineyards. In May, 2014, we planted the first 5.5 acres at this Allegan County property, making Wyncroft one of the few Michigan wineries to own vineyards in two Michigan AVA’s (Fennville and Lake Michigan Shore).
The new vineyard's plantings include Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and more Pinot Noir. 2016 gave us our first (small) crop from these young vines, and the wines are showing early promise. In 2017 and 2018, we will release a Sancerre-like Sauvignon Blanc, a White Bordeaux style blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, a Right Bank-style red blend of Merlot with a little Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blended in, and a lovely Pommard-like Pinot Noir.
As always, we thank you for your interest and support of Wyncroft and Marland,