As I watch faded leaves fall from the oak above the office window, and think about this year about to end, I have to conclude that it has been one of the most challenging we have faced in the 20 years here at BELL.  The weather alone kept us continually alert with the unusual flooding of winter rain, our long, chilly and damp spring, a summer of zigzagging hot spells, and finally, harvest during the most deadly firestorm in history affecting much of northern California.  So now, let’s watch leaves whirl in the chilly north wind, bid 2017 goodbye, and anticipate what we can look forward to in 2018.

First, the new 2017 Sauvignon blanc wines should be unveiled fairly soon.  We are having fun with tweaking the barrel regimen of these wines, as well as playing with different barrels.  Extra long and narrow, or very large and round?  Plus, the two different vineyard sources really bump up the variables in the mix.  Because this varietal is one of my favorites, I pay extra attention when Anthony gives me samples to taste.  So far, the flavors are very clean, concentrated and pure.  It will go into bottle in December, then age a bit before release.  Can’t wait!

Next, the 2015 reds are beginning to fill the stage.  This vintage was remarkable for the paucity of fruit at harvest after a poor set during the spring and searing summer heat-spells.  Remember, that’s the year we got less than half the Syrah we expected and lost almost half our Chardonnay.  Happily, the fruit we finally got was excellent and it shows in the wines.  Our 2015 Cabernet sauvignon, Napa Valley won a Gold, and the Best Red, at Corks and Forks in Sarasota, a market we’ve supported for 15 years.  The 2015 Cabernet sauvignon, Reserve won a Gold at the Harvest Challenge in Northern California.  The 2015 Claret, Cabernet sauvignon, won a Gold at the Houston Rodeo, Uncorked.  And 2015 Syrah  has two Golds, from the San Antonio Rodeo and the Orange County Wine Competition.  This precocious vintage is surprising us in the best way possible.  There isn’t as much of it as usual, so grab it while you can and enjoy a vintage that seems to be showing quite well, very very early in its life.

Waiting is over-rated, and after this roller coaster year, a little immediate pleasure is well deserved, don’t you think?  So, onward to 2018, with a glass in hand!