At the Galloping Cat vineyard, hot and dry were the operative terms. Our 3 year-old vines with their shallow, rock-interred root systems struggled to develop enough canopy to ripen the season's generous fruit set, so we removed 50% of the clusters just prior to veraison to help lighten their workload. Thanks to the drought conditions berry size was miniscule, resulting in profound color and concentration in the red wines. Fair weather continued all the way until early October when a capricious frost burned all of the vines' leaves, bringing the ripening season to an end. All in all an excellent debut vintage.
2013 proved to be the most difficult season we've had. A freak frost on May 13 killed most of the newly emerged shoots in the Galloping Cat vineyard, cutting our crop levels by 50% and, far worse, putting our vines almost 3 weeks behind schedule as we waited for the secondary shoots to start growing. What followed was the wettest June, July and August we've seen in 8 years at the vineyard, with almost 3 times the amount of rain we usually receive over the summer falling during those months. The result was a battle against excess vine growth and delayed cluster ripening.
Mercifully, the weather in September and October was dry and sunny, allowing the vines finally to cease their growth and focus on ripening fruit. However, due to the harsh conditions earlier in the growing season we were unable to produce Polyphony from the Galloping Cat vineyard in 2013.
We didn't know it at the time, but the 2013 vintage would usher in 2 tough years for our young vineyard.
2014 began with the coldest winter the Mid-Atlantic had experienced since 2004. Several nights of temperatures below 0F killed buds and damaged trunks, reducing the crop by about 30%. Merlot was worst hit, many of the vines being killed right to the ground. Spring and summer were a bit cooler than usual with average rainfall. Even though the important post-veraison ripening period of mid August through early October was cool, dry and sunny the vines had been too badly damaged by the winter to ripen reds to our expectations, so we were only able to make a rosé available from this vintage (25 cases of our Discantus).
More to come, but suffice it to say that Polyphony is back for 2015!