Checking in on the 2019 Vintage !

September 13, 2019


Its always about this time of year, during veraison/change of color, that I like to check in with my owner and winemaker friends to see how the vineyards are doing as we head into the final 6 weeks and final ripening stages. It looks like so far so good!



We will start in California and at the top of Howell Mountain and Lamborn Family Vineyard’s Mike Lamborn as he relates to us…



We started the 2019 growing season about 2-3 weeks late (cool, wet) which made me think harvest would be pushed back about the same 2-3 weeks. However, as it turns out our crop is smaller this year and consequently it will ripen faster and we will likely harvest right on schedule.  Some areas have huge crops so small is not universal. We are about 50% through color change and so far, everything looks quite good (small clusters & small berries).




Craig Becker Winemaker at Somerston, Priest Ranch and Kelleher  Family Estate in Napa Valley say’s…



 “The mild summer temperatures are very exciting” as he hopes to keep good freshness and acidity, but we have a ways to go!




In Bordeaux, Winemaker Jean Renee Matigon at 2nd Growth Ch. Pichon Longueville Baron in Pauillac, relates a similar scenario…



Dear Ralph, For the moment we have very good weather at this end of veraison.

We are “cleaning” the grapes to homogenate the ripeness.

And it is time to say: “place your bets, no more bets”

There is a French expression: do not sell the bear's skin before killing it!




From Bruno Borie, owner of 2nd Growth Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou in St-Julien


Dear Ralph, my pleasure and honor! Thank you for proposing!

I did an in-depth tour of our vineyards on Thursday and everything is fine. No sanitary issue at this stage. Crop will be limited due to difficult fertilization finish. Most grapes have now completely turned color (except our very few Petit Verdot). We have just entered a period of high pressure that should hold for the next month. At this point, we anticipate picking last week of September, first week of October.




Owner Frederic Le Clerc of Ch. La Tour de By from Begadan-Medoc


Hi Ralph, Concerning the vineyard, as you know, beginning of July was very hot, and with lack of water (which was a bless for a very low disease pressure on the vines), but we were lucky enough (thank God) to have some lower temperature end of July, some serious rain around the 26th of July, and again, around the 11th of August, and this gave the vines a very profound breathe, so they could achieve their veraison in a perfect way.

In the Medoc, mid-veraison occurred mid-August, so we are now expecting the harvest end of September- beginning of October. For the time being, when I look at the rainfall archives here in La Tour de By, there a great similarity with 2010, which is promising of course.

We still need to wait for 6 weeks till we get the real feeling about the quality of 2019. Nevertheless, with these weather conditions, a moderate yield, and very nice sunny conditions now in France for the end of August, I feel very optimistic!

Nature will as always give the final touch, so let’s be patient!




And last but certainly not least, from J.C Meyrou the Director of Ch. Tour Saint Christophe in St-Emilion. And I may add if you do not know this wine, you dam well should! It is the greatest value in all the Right Bank and made by talented winemaker Jerome Aquirre.


Hello Ralph, So far so good! As you know flowering went very well and quickly. In the past days veraison went very well, homogeneous and quick. So, it all looks good, right now the weather is great warm days, cold night. But many things can happen between now and harvest time end of sept / early oct…



So, it seems we are indeed looking good, fingers crossed for 6 more weeks of nice even weather. If you have any questions on the wines of California or Bordeaux don’t hesitate to contact me anytime.


Cheers for now!


Ralph Sands

Consultant at PrimeCellar




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