May 2, 2022 | by Maggie Kruse

Nature often rewards winemakers with an excellent vintage the year after an extremely challenging one, and this was certainly the case in 2018. In many ways, it was similar to the 2012 vintage—one of the finest years Jordan has seen in more than 40 years of winemaking. Here are four reasons why 2018 is one of the best vintages in decades for Sonoma cabernet sauvignon.

2018 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage

Worker in blue shirt about to pour a harvest of purple cabernet grapes into a silver bin in the vineyards.

2018 was a Return of the ‘Old Normal’

After years of drought, hot summers and early harvests, 2018 returned to what winemakers call the “old normal.” Timing for the entire growing season ran three to four weeks later than in recent years and recalled classic vintages from the 1990s, when winter temperatures remained cool and vines received just enough rainfall. Bud break occurred at a more typical time in late March, and minimal rain and wind during May flowering resulted in a generous but not excessive cluster count.

A grey bucket of purple grapes being carried on a worker's head. He's wearing black gloves and has a red grape hook in one hand.

Weather Conditions were Ideal

The only real weather concern during the growing season was a single heat spike in June during fruit set. Summer progressed with cool, foggy mornings in August and none of the typical late-summer heat waves. Weather throughout October was glorious with foggy, cool mornings and sunny days.

Winemakers Waited for Flavors and Tannins to Fully Develop

With no threat of rain in early to mid-September, winemakers had the luxury of waiting for 2018’s smaller berries to develop intense dark-fruit flavors and mature tannins.

Extreme close-up of freshly harvested purple grapes being touched by a worker's hand.

Yield was Both Bountiful and Beautiful

A winemaker’s dream vintage combines both phenomenal quality and a bountiful yield—and 2018 delivered. Though Jordan winemakers had anticipated an average-size cabernet sauvignon crop, modeling estimates on the similar 2012 vintage, cluster sizes in many blocks came in at a record high. This was a bountiful harvest of grapes with beautiful aromas, rich flavors and deep fruit character. Despite the smaller berries and record-breaking cluster weights, depth of flavor was not impacted. The cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes came in with exceptional blackberry and cassis flavors, and ideal natural tannins.