When and how do Wine Spectator's editors determine vintage ratings for each region?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

When will Wine Spectator announce the 2016 Napa Cabernet vintage rating? When and how are vintage ratings determined?

—Tim, Austin, Texas

Dear Tim,

It’s a little too soon for a 2016 vintage rating for Napa Cabernet. Those wines are just beginning to hit the market, and Wine Spectator's lead taster for California Cabernet, senior editor James Molesworth, has only reviewed a few dozen 2016s so far.

He says his vintage assessments include a comprehensive look at weather, harvest reports and barrel tastings, but that the final vintage rating isn't determined until after a representative selection of finished and bottled wines have been reviewed.

“There's no specific formula for the vintage rating,” says Molesworth. “It's part analytics, and part the judgment of the editor vis-à-vis other vintages. Keep in mind, vintage assessments are always a broad overview, and there are always exceptions.”

—Dr. Vinny

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