The last 2015 vintage grapes destined for Jordan wine made their way through the hopper and into our fermentation room on September 28, making the 40th vintage at Jordan Winery one of the earliest-finishing harvests in our history—bested only by 1984, 1992, 1997 and 2000. All our grapes were off the vines just as the annual Harvest Lunch season was getting started. This 2015 vintage report summarizes the weather during the growing season in Sonoma County, which led to a smaller harvest yielding elegant, classic wines.
The continuous string of early bud breaks continued in 2015 with grapevines awaking from winter dormancy three weeks ahead of a typical growing season. Fortunately, temperatures remained warm in March and April, mitigating any frost threats.
The most significant event of the 2015 vintage growing season occurred in early May when the weather dramatically shifted. It seemed more like February than the end of spring. Very unusually cool, somewhat damp days lingered the first two weeks of the month when fertilization of the vine’s flowers was occurring. This caused a lot of shatter in the forming clusters, which led to fewer flowers on the grapevine turning into berries. It became clear that 2015’s crop would not be as bountiful as its three preceding vintages.
Warm weather returned and remained throughout the summer, helping the vines ripen their smaller crop. The only major heat spikes occurred a few times in September when the thermometer hit 100 degrees, which always makes growers and winemakers give pause. During extremely hot weather, the vine shuts down respiration and withdraws the water from the clusters to help them survive. The heat fluctuations, coupled with the cold weather during flowering, resulted in grape cluster weights being off 20-30% from normal years. It was a double punch on quantity: fewer grapes on the vines with less juice inside the berries.
Despite low yields, the 2015 vintage wine quality of both Cabernet and Chardonnay is extraordinary: bright apple and pear aromas on the Chardonnay with juicy, crisp acidity exhibiting great staying power in the palate. The Cabernet is superb: deep, rich, blackberry and cassis flavors with a concentration of tannin provided by this vintage’s uniquely small berries; just the kind of wine that John Jordan was hoping to craft since his arrival in 2005. We are very excited to have a vintage like 2015 to commemorate our 40th harvest: very early, very low yields, very concentrated wines and absolutely delicious.