Warm and dry – that is a fair summary of 2004, a year which at first seemed to be nothing special, with a normally cold winter, a slightly fresh spring and an average summer. But the unusually long and mild autumn, one of the warmest in the last few decades, became the key to an extremely interesting vintage. The year began with a very cold winter with little snow, and no frost damage was caused in the vineyards. Following snowfall at the beginning of March, which even carpeted the valley bottoms in white, spring soon arrived with a sudden rise in temperatures. April brought the full range of wet and dry days and also high and low temperatures, as did the May, and the new shoots on the vines were slightly later in arriving than in an average year. The summer, too, began with cool and wet weather, but after a few days the mercury went up. The days were not excessively hot, however, and the nights regularly brought the temperatures down, which had positive effects on the quality of the grapes. The rain stayed away not only during the summer, when the vineyards had to be irrigated to counter the drought, but fortunately also during the harvest. That was a very smooth operation, and it was not until the middle of October, when the last load of grapes was already being processed in the winery, that the heavens opened and finally released the urgently needed rain.