August 2, 2021 | by Maggie Kruse
Despite the twists and turns of the season, from heavy rains to wildfires, the 2019 vintage will be remembered as a great year for Sonoma chardonnay. Here are five things that helped make 2019 such a terrific vintage for this noble grape.
The 2019 Chardonnay Enjoyed Average Temperatures
Winter rainfall and cool temperatures delayed bud break into late March and early April, which put us on track for a normal start time for harvest—around mid-September rather than the August starts we experienced during the drought years. Rainfall in early May took us by surprise, but thanks to cool spring temperatures that pushed back flowering in many vineyards, the rain didn’t have a significant impact on yields. Average temperatures throughout the summer helped the grapes progress beautifully.
Vineyard Teams Sacrificed Quantity for Flavor
Because a heavy chardonnay crop had formed by June, our vineyard crew made an aggressive pass throughout the vineyards to drop any clusters that were lagging in maturity. This practice of thinning after fruit set is a sacrifice of quantity for flavor, allowing the vines to focus their energy on growing a smaller, more flavorful crop. In August during veraison, when the grapes start to turn color and soften, we went through each vineyard block again and dropped any clusters that were unevenly ripening and behind in maturity.
Harvest Timing was Ideal for 2019 Chardonnay
During August vineyard visits, we noticed that our Russian River Valley chardonnay was maturing significantly faster than our Alexander Valley reds. We always prefer to pick most of the chardonnay before the cabernet harvest begins, so we can pick and crush the chardonnay before dawn and turn our attention to tasting the juice and making barrel decisions. In 2019 we got lucky and all of our chardonnay vineyards were ready to pick at the same time, before the cabernet harvest kicked off.
The 2019 Chardonnay Grapes were Pristine
The chardonnay grapes were so beautiful and pristine that minimal fining was needed, allowing the purity of the fruit to shine through. When we tasted the first press sample of cold, crisp juice with intense Fuji apple character, we knew 2019 was going to be a great year for Jordan Chardonnay.
Chardonnay Pressing Finished Before the Fires Began
Picking began on September 12 and we finished the vast majority of pressing in six consecutive nights. Fortunately, this was well before the Kincaide Fire started on October 23, so the 2019 chardonnay experienced no negative impacts.
Learn more about the 2019 Jordan Chardonnay.