Bond Estates’ 2017 vintage production drops 17%

Wine production at Napa Valley’s Bond Estates suffered a 12% to 17% production loss for its 2017 vintage due to the Californian wild fires in last October, its estate director Scott Gould has revealed.

Bond Estates’ five second vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons – Melbury, St. Eden, Quella, Vecina and Pluribus

The production on average for its five single vineyard wines – ‘Melbury’, ‘Quella’, ‘St. Eden’, ‘Vecina’ and ‘Pluribus’ – hover around 2,500 cases, and the production will see a drop in a fire-ravaged vintage like 2017, said Gould, noting that the winery suffered significantly less compared with other wineries that have lost the whole vintage due to smoke contamination in the cellar.

Expanding on the damages, he said that by the time the fire struck in mid-October, most wineries have finished harvesting, but a huge part of the damage was done due to smoke taint, and the ensuing power cut at wineries that don’t have back-up power generator, which shut down fermentation in tanks.

The impact of the wild fires that started in last year is, however, estimated to be less than previously reported, as the Department of Food and Agriculture forecasted the harvest to be four million tons in total, only very slightly down on the 4.03m tons achieved in 2016, with most of the losses coming from the summer heat wave rather than the fires in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties, as previously reported by db.

The drop in production is not of too much concern to the winemaker, as production varies from vintage to vintage, depending on growing and harvest conditions. A generous year like 2012 produced 2,800 cases while a drought-ravaged 2015 vintage brought down volumes to 1,900 cases.

But what casts more uncertainties over Bond Estates and American wine in general has more to do with the trade spats between the world’s two biggest economies, when China announced a possible 15% tariff increase for American wines this month.

Scott Gould of Bond Estates

“It’s scary. It will impact a lot of people,” Gould commented while speaking to dbHK at a media luncheon hosted by its importer Altaya.

“Yes I am concerned and I understand why,” he replied when about the prospects of tariff increase. “We are going through a very difficult time in the United States right now. The country is divided, the fact that we have a nation divided more so than ever before. For these who did not like Barack Obama, there wasn’t an uprising if you have seen what’s going on last weekend,” he explained, referring to the mass rallies across the US led by students for gun control.

“So this is quite scary. Now they have done these changes. I am not surprised,” he continued.

Founded by Bill Harlan, also owner of another cult winery, Harlan estate, Bond is actively growing its Asia market. Japan at the moment remains its biggest export market, followed by a combined total of Hong Kong and mainland China, the UK and Dubai, adding that in Singapore, despite its small market scale, sales are growing as well.

The estate just bottled its 2015 vintage, and the 2017 vintage won’t be bottled until 2020.

All the five single vineyard wines are made using 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. ‘Melbury’ and ‘Vecina’ were the first labels released by the estate in 1999, followed in 2001 by ‘St. Eden’, ‘Pluribus in 2003 and ‘Quella’ in 2006.

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