El Niño delayed the 1998 growing season by an entire month; late August brought an unseasonably early rain and some water damage in the clusters. We opened the vines to light and air, and thinned repeatedly over the next forty days as soon as any damaged fruit appeared. Aided by fine weather, we had clean, very ripe grapes at harvest. Intense fruit, a rich structure, and firm tannins characterize this lovely vintage, which will be at its best over the next five to six years. Alas, the severe thinning has resulted in significantly smaller quantities than usual.