Learn, discuss, and share lessons in Viticulture and Enology experienced from the people behind Larner Vineyard & Winery, located in Ballard Canyon AVA - Santa Barbara's Wine Country's Syrah territory.
n. In geology, an unconformity between parallel layers of sedimentary rocks which represent a period of erosion or non-deposition. This break in a sedimentary sequence will not have a difference of inclination (orientation or angle) between the two strata on either side of the boundary. While not easily evident in some cases, the lapse can represent a measureable change in the depositional environment.
This disturbance in a local environment also parallels the last six years of growing conditions experienced at the Larner Estate. The 2012 vintage experienced early rains, November, which dried out before our regular rainy season that following February – kicking off a five-year drought run. Both the 2013 and 2015 vintages we almost the hottest on record, whereas the 2014 and 2016 resembled more classic vintages yet still lower in moisture. The 2017 vintage paralleled the 2015 vintage, but cooled down towards the end – rendering wines that are powerful, yet still maintain elegance. All of these years were continuous in one aspect, lower total rainfall quantities.
The disconformity occurred over the winter of 2017 into 2018, where a dry early winter season spawned wildfires coupled with early rains resulted in devastating mudslides in burn areas like the Montecito area (#montecitostrong). The 2018 season then continued with late rains (March and April) that resulted in a very cool spring and to date very tepid peak temperatures. The result appears to be a vintage that unlike the previous, in some cases a full month early, could ultimately be a full month later than normal. These vintages test a winemakers craft to ensure the grapes ripen without being defined by vegetal characters.
Fortunately, the signature of an estate vineyard with pedigree is one that can produce a consistent quality of wine-grapes despite varying vintage conditions. This is why the famous wine critic labeled our vineyard a “Californian Grand Cru” – wine-speak for a prestigious site. Therefore, despite disconformities with vintages, the wines rendered from our organically farmed vines continue to outshine. Despite years of drought or cooler peak temperatures, our family can rely on our site expression to remain true, the signature of a vineyard that is iconic. Wine critics have coined this with the French word “Terroir”, we Geologist would prefer to call it “Earthfluence”.
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