Harvest 2021 – Winemakers Agree it’s an “Exceptional Vintage”

The 2021 wine grape harvest in Calistoga is in the books, and the consensus from winemakers is it will be a superb vintage with one caveat: the yields were down from previous years.

“The potential is there for some stunning wines.”
– Jerry Sepps, Owner & Founder, Storybook Mountain Vineyards

“All in all, I think 2021 is an exceptional vintage.  Lower yields, intense flavors, no rain and no fires/smoke.”
– Rob Hunter, Head Winemaker, Bennett Lane Winery

“2021 was an early harvest with light yields and excellent quality.”
– Tom Eddy, Owner and Winemaker of Tom Eddy Winery.

In conversations with winemakers from the Calistoga AVA, there was shared enthusiasm for 2021, especially after the challenges of 2020.

“2021 was a great, yet light vintage,” said Rob Hunter, winemaker at Bennett Lane Winery. He explained that the weather was ideal, although he is referring to 2021 as the “drought” vintage.

“Not only were the vines under extreme pressure due to lack of rain during the winter and spring, we were unable to sufficiently irrigate due to low water tables,” he said. “All of this resulted in what’s called deficit irrigation, or put simply, the vines don’t get as much water as they want/need.  This results in fewer clusters per vine with fewer, smaller berries, but these berries make wine that’s more intense. That’s why 2021 will be a great vintage!”

Jerry Sepps, who has been making wines at Storybook Mountain Vineyards since 1983, agreed that this was a “quality” year. He commented that after 40 years of winemaking, “it’s nice not to be faced with the same harvest conditions yearly.” He said the biggest difference this year were slightly erratic ripening patters and lower crop levels – the volume was about 86% of Storybook’s 20-year average.

“The most unique part of the harvest were the berries themselves, particularly our Zinfandel – in all probability due to the lack of winter rain and a dry if not overly hot growing season,” he said. “The grapes were smaller, as might be expected, but also denser, more concentrated and with the skins perhaps slightly thicker. Fermentation aromatics were also unusually deep and rich.  The potential is there for some stunning wines.”

Matt Crafton, lead winemaker at Chateau Montelena Winery, described the 2021 harvest as ”fantastic” in a recent interview with a wine publication. He added though that the yields were lower than previous years. “But we are really excited about what we have picked and think this could be a great vintage.” He added that the wine quality appears to be excellent with ample structure and aromatics.


Bennett Lane Winery:

Chateau Montelena Winery:

Storybook Mountain Vineyards:

Tom Eddy Winery: