From Kurt Niznik,
Continuum Estate winemaker:
2012 is a Presidential election year and, since I don’t have any grapes to pick yet, I’ve looked back through my memory to see how recent election year vintages have stacked up. ’92 gave us some nicely structured and long-lasting Napa cabernets that are fairly classic in their style and proportion. ’96 was a very memorable one for quality, and was one of those special once-in-a-decade (or more) years when merlot really stood out. 2004 was a relief after the super-hot harvest weather of 2003 and the wines were again of excellent quality, although a bit softer than the ’06s or ’07s that generally outshine them. 2008 was a stunner in my book; intense, densely tannic wines bursting with rich fruit flavors, the best of which will be immortal in the cellar.
Then there was 2000. That year was not considered so memorable. I recently popped open a magnum of wine I worked on that harvest and although it was a pleasant companion for the evening’s festivities, it really didn’t have that magic that a special vintage has.
So here we are again on the cusp of much political theater and we are looking down the barrel of what has the potential to be a stellar vintage. The year’s weather has been thankfully steady, mild, sunny and dry. The crop yield may be a tad low in some areas due to some weather issues at bloom, but otherwise everything is humming along beautifully in the vineyards and wines should be excellent.
New vineyards! We planted more vineyards (19 acres worth) a while back, and our wonderful vineyard team headed by Ryan Gerhardt has been carefully tending to them now for two years. This year we get to pick a small amount of fruit from these baby vines and get a taste of Continuum’s future. Very exciting stuff this is, as this also means that this year we will be 100% estate grown fruit at harvest. Up until now we have contracted with other Napa valley growers to supplement our fruit supply from the estate while we waited for our new vines. No longer. We’re home grown now!
Exciting news from Continuum doesn’t stop there. We have a new winery under construction that we will be moving into next year. It will feature solar power supplementation for electricity and water heating, rainwater capture for winery water supply, smart grid technologies for optimizing power usage and a bunch of other goodies that will make the winery not only a great instrument for the creation of our wines but a very efficient one with low environmental impact. We will be very happy to have our production running right up there on the estate among the vineyards, in a modern facility of our own design ably assisted by architect Howard Backen and associates.
This fall, as the grape harvest begins high on Pritchard Hill, we will be treated to one of the world’s greatest spectacles. There will be impassioned speeches, grandiose hand gestures and throngs of cheering supporters wearing goofy looking outfits holding big signs in support of their candidates. In addition there will be much commentary from people talking to cameras about people who talk about other people and vast sums of money spent on broadcast advertisements made of electrons and radiation that disappear in an instant.
When it is all over and the dust settles there will inevitably be an anticlimactic letdown, no matter which party wins, and it may seem as if nothing has really changed for us.
But if you look closely in Continuum’s barrel room, in the vessels marked with that fateful “2012″, there I predict you will discover that indeed a great and meaningful change in our lives has happened after all- a new Continuum is being created!