Rainfall for the 2010–2011 season was primarily concentrated in June 2010, which received 61% of the season’s total precipitation. This season had 14% less rain than the prior season, but 76% and 42% more than the 2008–2009 and 2007–2008 seasons, respectively.
Therefore, the vine’s development period, which runs from June of one year through May of the following year, registered a total of 329 mm (13.0 in), which is less than the prior year but higher than previous years.
With respect to average high and low temperatures, no variations from the historic record have been observed. The coldest month was September, with an average low of 4.9ºC (40.8ºF), and the warmest month was January, with an average of 21.4ºC (70.5ºF). During the winter (June–August), very low temperatures were recorded in some of the property’s lower sectors, where minimum temperatures were approximately -3.3ºC (26ºF). This did not affect the development of the vines, which were dormant at that time of year and therefore able to tolerate the cold temperatures.
Budbreak arrived at the end of the season and a week later than usual for Pinot Noir. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc did not present significant anomalies. The Syrah was approximately two weeks earlier than the previous season, although within the average ranges for the 2007–2008 and 2008–2009 seasons.
Spring rain fell in October and November, with 19 mm (.75 in) and 1 mm (.04 in), respectively. This is significant in that there had been no rain this time of year for the past three seasons. In 2006 there was 50 mm (2.0 in) of rain in October.
In the case of temperature, a vitally important event for vine development, primarily in the phenological stage of flowering, took place in the month of October, which recorded high temperatures that were lower than in the past three seasons: 18.7º, 24º, and 21.3ºC (65.6º, 75.2º, 70.3ºF), respectively. The low temperature was 1ºC (1.8ºF) lower than in previous years. The high and low temperatures for December and November were in the area of 23º–24ºC (73.4º–75ºF), and the lows were 8.3º–8.6ºC (46.9º–47.5ºF), which was 2.7ºC (4.9ºF) lower than the previous year and 1ºC (1.8ºF) lower than in 2008.
As a result, the average heat summation in degree days was critical for October and generated levels never seen before, which directly affected flowering due to lower temperatures and impeded optimum development of the pollen tube, which in turn affected fruit set.
Flowering in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay was delayed by approximately 6 and 5 days, respectively, in comparison with 2008 and 2007. Sauvignon Blanc maintained the same date as in previous seasons, although it was 10 days later than in 2008. A point to consider is that all varieties were later in the past two years.
Precipitation remains with the historic ranges and follows the tendency toward dry summers, although it bears mention that 8 mm (.31 in) of rain fell in January, which had never been recorded prior to that event. Rain only fell during March 2008 and February 2007 (26 mm / 1.0 in).
Temperatures remained within their normal historic ranges, with an average high of 26.4ºC (79.5ºF) in February, the warmest month of the year, and an average low of 9.6ºC (49.2ºF) in March. It is important to emphasize that January is usually the warmest month, but this year February was warmer than the average.
Veraison is the most important phenomenon of the summer season. In Pinot Noir onset was delayed approximately 13 days with respect to the previous year, and it was 15 days later than in the 2008–2009 season. It came 8 days early in Chardonnay in comparison with the 2009–2010 season, although it was still later than historic dates. Syrah entered veraison 4 days later than the previous season and 10 days later than in 2009 and 2008.
Rainfall was recorded in the months of March, April, and May, for a total of 24 mm (0.94 in), which is within the historic range, but lower than the previous season, which concentrated its precipitation in May with 37 mm (1.5 in).
In consequence, this period accumulated a total of 329 mm (13.0 in), which is lower than the 358 mm (14.1 in) that fell the previous season, but higher than the 168.5 mm (6.6 in) that fell in the 2008–2009 season (See Graph 1).
The temperature during those months has remained within the historically normal range, with highs of 17.5–26ºC (63.5–78.8ºF) and lows of 6.4º–10ºC (43.5º–50ºF). May was the coldest month of the past three seasons.
In general, the full season registered lower temperatures than in previous years, which resulted in a lower heat summation for the season.
Yields did not drop significantly, and they were still slightly higher than in the previous season, which was directly affected by the high productions in the 2008–2009 season.
The Chardonnay harvest occurred approximately 5 days later than it did in 2009–2010, although that too was late. Historically harvest has been the first week of April. Just like last year, the Pinot Noir was 10 days later than the historic dates for 2009 and 2008.
Syrah, like in 2010, was approximately 10 days later than in previous harvests. The Sauvignon Blanc harvest was also delayed and resulted approximately a week later than previous harvests.
This confirms the effects of the lower heat summation, primarily due to the lower temperatures in October and the beginning of the viticultural season.