2023 Harvest Recap

by | Dec 9, 2023 | Vineyard News

There’s no feeling quite as gratifying as seeing a new vintage of barrels stacked in a clean cellar as the late-season rain pitter-patters on the roof.  To me, harvest is like a strenuous workout; it’s tough in the moment but is so rewarding once the dust settles.

2023 marks a monumental shift at Levo, with nearly half of our grapes being sourced from our small but mighty 17-acre vineyard in Willow Creek District. The large influx of estate fruit influenced our departure from our Santa Barbara vineyard holdings. This was a tough decision as these southern vineyards are where I met so many great mentors, friends and where our vinous journey began. But just like any story, there are pages to turn and new chapters to explore. This is Levo Act 2, where we will focus on Willow Creek district in Paso Robles.  We did hold onto some Willow Creek “Satellite” vineyards, which included Caliza, G2, Fulldraw, TH Estate, and Jack Creek.  Moving forward, I’m inspired to hyper-focus on Willow Creek District’s microclimates through the lens of rhone varietals. 

In a word, the 2023 vintage was phenomenal. It began with a hundred-year rain. After years of drought, our prayers were answered with 38.5 inches of rain between December 2022 and April 2023. This precipitation reinvigorated our young vines and wells with a drink of water they desperately needed. Budbreak occurred a couple of weeks later than the historical average, and the young vines flourished through a moderate yet breezy growing season. The fair weather forced us to drop a significant amount of crop to ensure the grapes hit the finish line. The days over 100 degrees could be counted on one hand. The fair weather continued through autumn and provided grapes with a long hang time, resulting in supple tannins, dense color, electric acidity, and luxurious textures. Imagine a stereo’s treble, bass, and volume all turned up to 10. The sound of 2023 is harmonious, rich, and complete. 

There’s a lot to look forward to. Here’s 2023 by the numbers:

New Oak % by Variety
Petite Sirah53%
Barrels Filled by Variety
Syrah26 barriques (225L/228L)
Grenache/Graciano10 demi-muids (600L) 2 barriques (225L)
Mourvedre4 barriques (225L)
Petite Sirah15 barriques (225L)
Vessel Type of White Wine
Stainless Steel26%
Neutral Oak35%
Date of First White Pick9/14/2023Caliza Viognier
Date of First Red Pick10/4/2023Levo Syrah
Date of Last Red Pick11/9/2023Jack Creek Grenache
Date of Last White Pick11/14/2023Morro View Grenache Blanc

For those interested in seeing the vintage through the lens of a 35mm camera, you might enjoy our updated photo gallery at the bottom of our “Story Page” 

To me, when I look at the class of 2023, each barrel in our cellar tells a story of a small block in Willow Creek District, its individuality and character. These barrels represent a year toiling in the vines, walking each block and slowly guiding each vine through growing and weather phases – Always doing our best to dance in step with Mother Nature.  Erosion control, shoot thinning, leaf pulling, cluster shaping, green dropping, putting up bird nets and shade cloth, trapping gophers, and chasing deer out of the vineyard. To me, it represents an exciting turning point.  A winery raising its own vines is a natural progression in the winemaking journey – comparable to a restaurant slowly working its way towards growing its own produce and raising its own protein. As they say, the proof is in the pudding, and I cannot wait to drink these new wines with you. I wish I had a time machine, but for now, I’ll just blink, and it will be time to put these beauties in a bottle.

Until then, we are so thankful for your support and thirst for great wine. We certainly wouldn’t be where we are without you. After all, these wines are made with you in mind every step of the way. We wish you and yours a happy holiday season,

The best is yet to come,

Bret and the team at Levo Vineyard