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Napa Valley 1996 / An unseasonably warm winter with substantial rainfall launched the 1996 growing season with an early bud break. A cool spring was followed by intermittent rain during the May bloom period, causing shatter in many vineyards and reducing the potential crop size. A relatively warm summer with several heat spells speeded veraison and ripening, while a cooling trend in September allowed grape flavors to catch up with sugars, bringing the fruit into excellent balance. Smaller clusters and a light crop resulted in deeply flavored grapes, with the overall harvest down by 20-30%.