Notes on the 2019 Vintage
By Winemaker, Jordan Fiorentini
Overall, 2019 was a mild, long, even, and cool vintage – my favorite type! We had significant (above average) rainfall and late budbreak (about two weeks later than normal). Nice and easy was the name of the game for the rest of the year with plenty of available water during much of the growing season and no crazy heat waves. As a result, these wines are balanced with lots of freshness.
2019 was a later, milder, and more even-tempered vintage than 2018. Yields were up in 2019 due to the nice rainfall we had that winter which lasted through March 2019. Canopies were green, healthy, and very happy too. A little nerdy side note: the diurnal temperature swings were less extreme in 2019 (meaning the nighttime lows weren’t as low in 2019 as 2018), leading to less acid in the wines, higher PHs, and more ease on the palate. Cool weather in the spring led to some issues with flowering for Grenache, however, this decrease in crop meant we didn’t have to do as many crop adjustments in the vineyard.
We actually started picking grapes only a day later in 2019 than in 2018, but 2018 had greater diurnal temperature swings and many more days over 100 than 2019. That being said, 2018 wasn’t a crazy hot year for us either, but it was drier with more see-sawing temperatures.
The last pick in 2018 was 10/17 vs. 10/24 in 2019 – so pretty close. Tannins had ample time to get really ripe and supple in 2019, and since the spring was cool, we believe that also led to lower overall tannin development in the wines than in 2018. All this leads to wines from 2019 that are pure, elegant, and very balanced. The acids are a touch lower than “classic” and pHs a bit higher, which make for a more approachable and supple vintage.
We also enjoyed reading what friend and wine critic, Jeb Dunnuck, had to say about the 2019 vintage in Paso:
The result of a long, even, cooler growing season, the wines show remarkable purity of fruit and complexity while possessing slightly more rounded, supple, seamless profiles on the palate. In general, the wines have a good sense of freshness without the more tannic style of the 2018s.
Looking at the growing season, this was a departure from the drought years of 2016, 2017, and 2018, and the region received a welcome cooler, wetter winter and spring. The growing season can be broken up into two parts, the cool, wet weather up through the early parts of June, which helped saturate the water table and delayed flowering and bud break, followed by a warmer, dry period in July, August, September, and October. Vine health was outstanding throughout the year and yields (aside from Grenache, which shattered due to cool weather at flowering) are close to average. One notable point on the vintage was the lack of heat spikes, and while most growing seasons see 10-12 days above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, 2019 saw only 6 days.
This all shows in the wines. They have a smooth, supple, easygoing feel that mirrors the even growing season, and the warmth at the end of the year resulted in ample ripeness and richness while still not blowing out the aromatics. The 2019s have plenty of up-front appeal and, in general, are more approachable than the more tannic, structured 2018s. The important difference between 2018 and 2019 is the lack of hydric stress and warmer later season weather as well as fewer diurnal swings in 2019, which resulted in slightly softer, more rounded wines. While I think 2019 slots in just behind 2018, both vintages have their own style and are loaded with brilliant wines.