The growing season in Santa Barbara County is the longest in California. Yet, even though winegrowers enjoy consistent weather patterns each year, vintages do differ year to year. Here's a brief synopsis of some past vintages from viticulturist Jeff Newton of Coastal Vineyard Care.
2012 The 2012 season was a long sunny year, with normal rainfall amounts during the winter months, minimal frost and mild wind during bloom-time. Warm temperatures starting in mid-July and continuing through early October helped ripen the plentiful crop load. This also made harvest for both winemakers and grape growers more intense as many varieties ripened very close together.
2011 The 2011 season was challenging for growers. The spring time began with a damaging freeze which lasted for multiple days. Later cool, windy, and rainy weather at bloom further reduce the crop. The spring and summer weather was mild, creating high mildew and botrytis pressure. The growing season included unseasonable light rain events throughout the spring, summer and fall months. With the exception of a couple of light rain events, the harvest season was warm.
2010 2010 proved to be the coolest season in memory marked by reduced vine growth, low yields and delayed ripening. Both the spring and summer were unseasonable cool with the exception of a significant heat spike in late September followed by early rains during harvest season.
2009 Drought continued for the third year in 2009 leading to both low vigor and low yields. The spring and summer were mild and cool but a late September heat spike pushed the sugars up. The harvest season was challenging due to the October rains which were followed by 90 degree weather.
2008 2008 was a tough year with less than 10 inches of rainfall and a late April freeze that contributed to low yields. Summer was mild with the exception of a late August heat spike. This heat spike lead to an early harvest which was marked by an early October freeze occurring before the completion of harvest.
2007 2007 began with below average rainfall and cold winter temperatures, which in turn lead to late budbreak. Bloom time was cool, followed by an unpredictable summer with multiple heat spikes. The weather created a long hang time and an extended harvest season.
2006 2006 was the second year in a string of wet winters. The spring bloom time period was wet and windy as well. The summer continued to be very mild creating a long growing season with a later than usual harvest.
2005 An especially wet winter created large canopies and a heavy crop load. The mild and cool spring was followed by a hot early summer and finally settled into cool late summer and fall season. This created a long maturing process for the grapes, allowing the pH and sugars to be balanced.
2004 The 2004 season began beautifully with a warm spring which was followed by a mild summer. However a significant heat wave in September accelerated ripening and lead to an early harvest. Early October rains posed a late harvest threat.
2003 Early budbreak marked the beginning of the 2003 season, followed by unseasonable spring rains during bloom which impacted fruit set. The light crop was pushed to early maturity by a significant heat spike in August.
2002 The 2002 season began with average winter rainfall and a cool early spring. The cool weather continued during bloom leading to poor fruit set. Summer and fall continued to be cool, creating a long mild growing season allowing the light crop to hang and develop slowly.