With rain showers looming, the Northern California grape harvest is in full swing.
After a long, rainy winter and spring, bud break got off to a late start and was followed by one of the coolest summers in the last 60 years.
According to Napa winegrower David Beckstoffer, those who managed their vines well during the unusual season are harvesting good quality, ripe grapes with excellent color and slightly lower brix levels than are typical of the region.
During the unusually cool summer, foggy mornings created conditions favorable for mildew.
Growers thinned and opened vine canopies and dropped fruit at veraison to speed maturation of the remaining clusters.
Short heatwaves in late August, and again in late September, caused some sunburn to the remaining exposed fruit.
Rot and sunburn did serious damage to Zinfandel in Sonoma, but was less of a problem for North Coast Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, which only required careful sorting.
There are also reports that some of the high altitude mountain Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa has yet to fully mature with two rain systems imminent in the next week.
‘The good news,’ says Beckstoffer, ‘Is that with this mild growing season, the flavors have developed hand in hand with sugars. This is not a hang-time year.’
Vintner Cathy Corison of Corison Winery says her Kronos Vineyard fruit has ‘great color, good flavor and isn’t too syrupy.’
Opus One winemaker Michael Silacci picked To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon two weeks ago and describes the wine as ‘lucid and elegant.’
Written by Tim Teichgraeber