Winemaker Notes from the 2022 Harvest:
October 24, 2022
Starting at the conclusion of the 2021 vintage, we saw heavy early rainfall and a very wet November and December throughout the moon mountain district that brought much needed water to the vines by flushing the soil profile and putting the vines in good position to start the dormant season. January and February were very dry in the Moon Mountain AVA, indeed the driest on record, which gave way to some moderate rainfall through the spring. All told we were 75% of normal for the 2021-2022 water year (total rainfall is tracked October 1st through September 30th.)
It was a cold start to the growing season, with multiple frost events that led to several frost damaged vineyards in Sonoma County and beyond. Being a hillside vineyard where the cool air sinks to lower points, we are generally unaffected by frost.
The late spring and summer gave way to a very moderate summer with ideal growing conditions for optimal flavor development in the grapes….and then at the end of September we had the mother of all heat waves. It’s not at all unusual for us to see a week of 100-degree weather during September on Moon Mountain, but this heat wave was unlike any we’ve seen before! We had a week of sustained heat with daytime highs at or above 109F. In conditions like this, the vines shut down and stop respiring to try and retain water. Any clusters that were directly in the sun absorbed heat (imagine wearing a black t-shirt in the sun) and suffered sunburn and dehydration, many shriveling up into raisins that ultimately led to them not being picked.
Following the heat, it cooled dramatically and was followed a week later by a small amount of rain, which actually helped refresh the vines.
All in all, grapevines are extremely resilient plants, and with careful management we were able to weather these events successfully.
The net effect of the drought, heat and rain was a very light crop, perhaps our lightest ever on our estate vineyards. But the good news with light crops is that they generally produce greater concentration of flavor. And by adapting our grape growing and winemaking to meet the challenges of the season, I feel confident we are well on our way to producing another vintage of outstanding wines for you.
Ty Caton, Winemaker & Proprietor
See some photos from our 2022 harvest at the Caton Vineyards in the Moon Mountain AVA:
Harvest photos by: Doug Marshall