In Napa Valley, as throughout California, 1998 was an unusual year for weather. El Niño gave us a growing season punctuated with extremes ? twice the normal rainfall, 18 days of frost, cold weather at bloom and record heat spells. Yields for some varieties were down because of the wet weather during bloom and berry set. A period of excessive summer heat caused sunburn in some vineyards, necessitating thinning to maintain high quality. But then, as harvest approached, the weather improved, and we had near perfect mild, sunny days for ripening. The small, loose clusters had sufficient "hang time” on the vines to create vibrant flavors and natural balance in the wines. Overall, the 1998 harvest, one of the latest of the decade, turned out to be of excellent quality.