by Chris Russell, Contributor
As the vineyard enters its long slumber until spring, the 2020 vintage is on its way from the vineyard to your glass. This has been a tumultuous year, so it’s little surprise that the 2020 harvest itself was challenging at times. With challenges come opportunities, however, and our hardworking team has risen to the occasion. We’re thrilled about the results of this year’s harvest, and we look forward to sharing our 2020 vintage with you.
A Year of Adversity
The biggest change in 2020 is that our yields are down about 40 percent when compared to 2017, 2018, and 2019. 2Hawk Winemaker Kiley Evans reports, “Normally, we’d have around 160 or so barrels, and this year, we’ve only got 90ish. Why? The weather during flowering. The inopportune heat spike combined with scattered showers resulted in significantly fewer berries in each cluster.”
Because different varieties bloom at different times, not all varieties were equally impacted. Merlot, for example, saw a drop of around 50 percent, while Cabernet Sauvignon saw only a 20-percent difference from previous years. The two varieties bloomed only four days apart, but that made all the difference. Even the age of the vines themselves has an impact: mature Malbec plants saw a decrease of 40–50 percent, while younger replants yielded fully developed clusters. The young Malbec plants bloomed and set fruit about five to seven days ahead of the mature plants, thus avoiding the climatic conditions that caused the decrease in crop load in the older plants.
The 2020 harvest came early this year, beginning on September 4, with the last fruit harvested on October 19. The generally warm weather through the mid- to late growing season meant the harvest was more than two full weeks ahead of schedule. As discussed in September’s blog post, the 2020 wildfire season also complicated the harvesting and winemaking process, leading to some changes in our harvesting and winemaking procedures.
Quality over Quantity
Despite a wet spring and some unfortunate weather at bloom, warm days and cool nights prevailed through much of the growing season. 2Hawk Co-Owner and Vineyard Manager Ross Allen carefully monitored the vineyard throughout the year, adjusting the irrigation schedule as needed to keep the vines optimally healthy. He notes, “While the rest of 2020 has been terrible on so many levels, we are busy picking some amazing fruit this year in the vineyard. A wet start in the spring and rains at bloom didn’t set the stage for the rest of summer, thank goodness. Mother Nature brought plenty of warm days and cool nights as we moved into summer, and that pattern continued through the season.”
The result? Extremely high-quality fruit that is likely to translate into open-textured, fruit-forward wines with generally lower acidities and softer earlier-maturing structural components. These hedonistic wines will reach their ideal consumption age a bit faster than previous, more classically structured vintages like 2017. Some Malbec and Tempranillo is still macerating on the skins after fermentation in barrel, with intense results that are sure to produce wines worthy of the Padigan Series label. Smoke impact so far has proven all but nonexistent, thanks to careful pre-harvest evaluation, ongoing monitoring, and mitigation techniques.
In addition to exceptionally high-quality fruit, this year’s harvest has also been a year of firsts. We saw the first harvest from our young Syrah vines, with superb results so far: “deep color and spice with blackberry preserves and a dried herb/cured meat quality that just screams Syrah,” notes Kiley. It’s not yet clear if this vintage will warrant a varietal bottling, but Kiley isn’t ruling it out. In any case, Syrah fans have every reason to look forward to seeing 2Hawk’s future releases.
We hope this look at the 2020 harvest and upcoming 2020 vintage has you as excited as we are about the results. This year has been a difficult time for many, but as it draws to a close, we find hope and promise in the future, with some stellar releases on the way.
If you’d like to savor the results of previous harvests, our tasting room is expected to reopen January 2, 2021, barring any additional restrictions mandated by the Governor of Oregon in relation to COVID-19. To keep up on the latest happenings at 2Hawk, subscribe to our newsletter. Do you have any questions about our wines, our vineyard, or the winemaking process? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Please comment below or reach out to us directly via our Contact page.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about our Rogue Valley wines, here are a few ways:
- Ready to spice up your cooking? Get some inspiration from last month’s blog post, 2Hawk Wine & Food Pairings: Fall Recipes—with an Asian Twist.
- When it reopens, visit the tasting room to sample our current wines.
- Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with the latest happenings.