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The 2023 Crush Is in the Books in the Sierra Foothills, El Dorado AVA


“A Great to Exceptional Vintage!” Summing up the mountain vineyard harvest – A perspective by Paul and Maggie Bush of Madroña Vineyards

Camino, El Dorado AVA, CA (November 21, 2023) – On the winery’s 50th Anniversary, Madroña Vineyards’ owner/vintners, Maggie and Paul Bush share the rewards of the 2023 wine grape harvest.

“So, no frost in the spring, a relatively cool summer, a beautiful fall and the rain holding off just enough has given us a wonderful harvest, both in quality and quantity! That is the first thing you need to know, and the one thing to remember if limited to remembering just one thing.

We started picking on September 11th and finished on October 30th. That’s a six-week harvest period! Why is this important? Well, it meant that we could actually sleep at night, having had more normal 10 hour days at the winery (rather than 16 to 18 hour days on compressed harvest years). It also meant that we could wait to pick varieties when we felt they were at optimal maturity. We weren’t triaging blocks because everything was ripe at the same time. Instead, we could pick here and then there as the varieties ripened into the window of picking we desired. Less stress makes better wine (and happier people!).

In all this year, we crushed/pressed 139 tons of grapes, with 41 distinct different lots. (Like 5 lots of Zin, 3 lots of Malbec, 3 lots of Chardonnay, 3 lots of Riesling, etc.) This assortment of different lots means more ability to blend down the road, lending towards more complexity and better wines as well!

But if you’re really wanting to know more about the geeky parts of things, then here goes. We were seeing and tasting great phenolic maturity at lower brix (sugar levels). In other words, the tannins/color/fruit were all there, but we didn’t need to wait until the grapes got super sweet. Or in other words, I’m expecting lower alcohol wines this year with all the intensity and balance we look for in great El Dorado (Sierra Highlands) wines!

Now, just a couple of specifics:

  1. Color in the reds is amazing this year with even normally “lackluster” reds like Nebbiolo and Grenache showing great depth of color!
  2. Acid levels in the whites are bright and fresh, with great fruit characters. The Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay are especially exciting with complex characters.
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, normally tannic monsters at this age, are already showing a finesse and approachability that makes me very excited for the future! (And both are inky black!)
  4. All the Zinfandel lots are spicy spicy, with varying degrees of red and black fruit characters!
  5. Fermentations, with the lower harvest brix (sugar levels), have been clean with no “stuck” fermentations.
  6. Almost all the wines are already in barrel, potentially letting us relax a bit more during the holidays!

So, I would take a vintage like this one any day of the week, and twice on Sundays! It was good for the grapes, good for the people, and good for the yields!”



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