Vintage 2011: wacky wine weather

storm vineyard
Weather: it’s what you discuss in elevators or with the in-laws. But if you’re a winemaker or even a wine consumer, it can actually be pretty important.

And things are heating up in talking about weather in the wine world. Especially if you are in Bordeaux that is, since it is en fuego! Or something like that: The heat has been abnormally high and the rainfall is way below average. So if the drought-like conditions keep up, the reduced supply of grapes could push wine prices even higher! Is it 2003 all over again? The vintage in Burgundy is also advanced.

By contrast, cut to the Auction Napa Valley this past weekend and people were breaking out the umbrellas rather than the sunscreen. Weather has been cool across the state. Rhys Vineyards has vineyards in more of the marginal weather areas of California and therefore is rightfully weather-obsessed, so their Twitter feed is an excellent source of weather info. Temperatures at their Skyline Vineyard, perched at 2,300-ft elevation, hovered at 49.6 degrees Fahrenheit in May, making it one of the seven coldest Mays since 1931; their vine shoots are about two or three inches behind, they tweet. They say that weather in late June is key for the fruit set so they don’t mean to sound gloomy. And after California’s cool and damp 2010 vintage, the “high-octane,” “fruit-bomb” style is taking it from all sides these days.

Australia was in the headlines for the devastating Queensland floods earlier this year. But even some of the wine growing regions were hit by heavy, “seven year rains” that rotted unpicked grapes quickly and made for a lot of grape selection both in the vineyard and on sorting tables. The Sydney Morning Herald explicitly linked the “soggy” weather to lower alcohol levels.

It’s weird that California and France appear to have flipped weather so far for 2011–there’s something you can talk about in your next elevator ride. Just don’t let the Mayans know since I think that was part of their their 2012 prophecy…

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7 Responses to “Vintage 2011: wacky wine weather”


  1. All the more reasons to buy us, Argetina, more wines (?).

    I discovered your blog recently, just wanted to say it´s relly good. Im about to recive my Enologist title and your blog is a good way for me to try and keep track of whats happening over there with this guilty pleasure of us all.

    Keep it up Doc, cheers from over here.


  2. I’m addicted to wines from Argentina since i ordered once randomly … from Amazon.


  3. The wine years 2009 and 2011 have been very difficult in Germany due to the weather. Last year, in some regions, the vintage was 70% below average. And this year, due to heavy freeze in may, 25 – 90% of the grapes have been frostbitten. The climate change is going on


  4. So very true… what to most is small talk means oh so much to our industry and those outside of it just don’t appreciate nor understand the importance of the weather – except others who work in ag related careers.
    -D


  5. [...] Wacky Wine Weather Isn’t Just for VA The Weekly Virginia Wine News Roundup: 6-12-11 by Virginia Wine Trips, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Posted under VA wine news roundup,Virginia Wine and tagged with swirl, swirl sip snark, virginia wine, virginia wine blog, virginia wine news, virginia wine review Comments (0) [...]


  6. [...] me that flowering was the second latest–and the latest was just last year. Given this year of wacky wine weather, I thought it was worth asking the question: What is flowering and how does a late flowering affect [...]


  7. What is clear is that this is part of a prevailing trend, apparently due to changes in climate patterns.

    The implications for the market were the coming decade to continue to produce outstanding vintages is clear.

    On that note, amid the market focus there seems to be an overall acceptance of a changing climate without much said on where this may lead us. I recall one trade professional, I believe it may have been Robert Joseph, stating once that Europe was unprepared for climate change. I believe this to be the case.


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