Jimmy Hayes: 2017 Mayacamas could be lost after California fires

The 2017 vintage of the Napa-based winery Mayacamas could be completely lost after the devastating California fires, its estate manager Jimmy Hayes revealed to dbHK today.

Mayacamas’ winemaking facility is still intact as shown in the photo. Its main residence where it is used to host guests, however, has burnt down.

Although the vintage was harvested when the deadly fires erupted last month, it was left in open fermenters for four days without electricity amid thick smoke, Hayes confessed.

The full effects of the fires on the winery, which is located in upper Mount Veeder, one of the hardest hit areas in Napa, are still to be assessed, but he admitted that there’s a “significant chance” that the 2017 vintage will be lost.

However, the vintner still considers himself lucky as the winery’s main winemaking facility remains intact, although its 130-year-old main residence next to the building was burnt down during the fires that first started on 18 October. “Had we lost the winemaking facility, that would have been tragic,” he commented.

Across its 50-acre plantings, he admits there is, “some damage across the vineyards” but the main damages are limited to the outskirts of the plots. Overall, “80 or 85% of the vineyard are perfectly green and looks like nothing ever happened,” the vintner assures.

The outskirts of Mayacamas vineyards are affected by the deadly fires in California, but Jimmy Hayes estimates that 80-85% of the vineyards are perfectly green as shown in the picture.

Some of the vines affected by the fires would lose one or two years of productivity, and vigorous pruning would be needed to restore its vitality, he noted.

“Even if we have to replant some vines, they are younger vines, so that’s not the end of the world,” he said. The oldest vines on the property were planted in the 1980s, and most of the vines on the property are younger vines of three or four years of age after Mayacamas’s sale in 2013 to Screaming Eagle’s former owner.

“There are some parts of the winery that are still not replanted, that are sitting fallow, so that’s really good news,” he added, which gave the vintner a certain relief.

Despite the bleak prospect for the 2017 vintage, the winery’s current release of the 2013 vintage, the first vintage made under the new ownership, could turn out to be the “the best ever produced in the history of Mayacamas,” Hayes said, stressing that he is very hopeful of the future of Mayacamas. 

The new vintage will be available in Hong Kong roughly around January next year through local importer Links Concept.

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