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Celia Welch Reports on Napa Valley 2012

Celia Welch at our Domestic Tasting

The other week, we had a quick minute to chat with Celia Welch about her thoughts and observations of how the 2012 vintage is progressing on the vines along the length of Napa Valley. And as the star-studded winemaker at Keever Vineyards in Yountville, at Kelly Fleming in Calistoga, at Lindstrom in Stags Leap, of Scarecrow and M. Étian in Rutherford, and of her own label Corra, Celia is positioned to know the length of Napa well.

“No one wants to say too much,” she began, while standing behind the table at last week’s Domestic Tasting, “we don’t want to jinx anything…”

With a cautious smile, she continued.  “It’s been one of those seasons that if a winemaker could design the weather, it’d be exactly what you want.  Even now, this week, things are close to being ripe.  Temperatures are cooling off with high 70’s, low 80’s in Napa.  It’s exactly what we need for the flavors to develop.”

And, she added, “The vintage is looking plentiful.  Not only [is there] lovely quality, but also quantity.  It’s very rare to have both, like in 2005 and 1997.”

Some vintages possess a warm edge that enable the cooler AVAs, like Yountville, to do well; and others are cooler, enabling the warmer regions to soar, like Calistoga. This year, according to Celia, from Calistoga to Yountville, everything looks as good as it can be in a great year. She hasn’t seen any vineyards that are struggling, but, she cautioned, “We don’t want to get too excited.  We still have 5-6 weeks until harvest is done and anything could happen!

For example, “2004 could have been the best vintage in our lives, but we had heat just before harvest,” Celia continued.  Other past vintages had  looked potentially beatific, but were hit with a cooling effect as the fruit was ready to pick.

“With every week passing, there’s a collective sigh with the winemakers, that we’ve made it through,” she concluded before uncorking a bottle Corra Cabernet.

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