After a full month in the vines, Willcox-based Carlson Creek Vineyard has completed their 2015 harvest. Producing everything from their award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Riesling, to new varietals, such as Malbec and Malvasia Blanca, the family-owned vineyard saw a bountiful harvest compared to years prior. Due to higher production, they were also able to sell their grapes for the first time – many bought sight unseen, due to their reputation for growing quality fruit.

“With a warm winter and good rain, the vines woke up early this year and we were able to begin harvest weeks ahead of our usual schedule,” said co-owner Robert Carlson III. “While we did lose some fruit, new varietals, like our Malbec, truly flourished. 2015 will be a great vintage.”

The vineyard was able to avoid major frost damage that hit other parts of the state and due to solid canopy growth the grapes were protected from direct sunlight and birds in the area.

Harvest began with their Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, with acids and sugars at optimal levels combined with a surprising physiological maturity. A new varietal to their line up, Malvasia Blanca, was already partially sold to another winery – look for that release from Callaghan Vineyards – and the remainder unfortunately fell prey to hungry birds.

The white wine harvest was completed with Carlson Creek’s popular Sweet Adeline Riesling. Small clusters and small berries made it a challenging pick (taking nearly twice as long as expected), but the high quality of the grapes made it a successful one nonetheless.

The red grape harvest began with Malbec, another new varietal for the vineyard. While its first harvest was split due to high winds and lightning, the remaining fruit was of outstanding quality and will see new oak and extended aging before going to bottle.

Their Syrah showed rapid development, due to a higher water volume throughout the winter season, allowing for a more consistent fruit. And the Cabernet Sauvignon yielded excellent clusters with a deep red already in the juice. This marks the first year since 2008 that the vineyard will produce a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

On the following pick, Grenache grapes produced clusters the size of footballs, showing improvement in the fruit over previous years in part due to a more aggressive pruning plan in the winter.

Last but not least, Carlson Creek’s Mourvedre showed a touch of dehydration but overall large, full clusters which will make for a full-bodied backbone to the vineyard’s award-winning flagship wine, Rule of Three (a Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blend).