The climate of the 2004 vintage was also special. The Spring Mountain District typically receives cool afternoon winds from the Pacific Ocean. This produces an unusually long growing season and long hang-time for the fruit that is harvested each October. “For the 2004 vintage the bud-break in March was very early. And due to the wet spring in 2003, the cluster count on the vines was lower. Bloom came early in May, and we experienced cool and wet weather, which further reduced the crop,” winemaker and general manager Sam Baxter recalls.
Afterwards excessive heat began in June and continued throughout the summer and fall with about five spikes above 100 degrees, which caused the grapes to accumulate sugar rapidly, calling for an early harvest. “This allowed the wines to keep their acidity and minerality. Our yields were down 35 percent in 2004, which along with the weather resulted in concentrated wines with balanced acidity, rich minerality and sense of terroir that is not as common in late harvesting years.”
Other Terra Valentine Estate Cabernets from the 2004 vintage include the Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon ($38) and the Wurtele Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($58). The 2004 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon offers aromas of jam, cedar and clove that lead to flavors of cherry, cocoa and a long silky finish. Cellar for five to seven years. The 2004 Wurtele Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon displays aromas of blackberry, pepper, and black licorice with flavors of black cherries and a hint of cocoa. Cellar for eight to ten years.
Mountainous vineyards present challenges to Baxter including accessibility, diversity of soils, ripening, and hand labor. But they reward his efforts with lovely wines of intense flavor and color. Terra Valentine wines can be found in locally and can also be special ordered at local retailers.