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California harvest begins

Carneros-based Gloria Ferrer has picked the first grapes of the 2008 harvest in California.

The grapes, Pinot Noir bound for the estate’s sparkling wine production, came from a contract vineyard in Sonoma Country, near Glen Ellen, where they had ripened exceptionally early.

Despite spring frosts destroying nearly 15% of the crop in much of the North Coast, grapes in the region are, according to growers, in good form with small berries and clusters.

Other sparkling wine producers, including Domaine Carneros and Anderson Valley’s Roederer Estate, are yet to start harvesting and a spokesperson for Gloria Ferrer said that its own Carneros vineyards would not be picked for at least another week.

Roederer Estate’s winemaker Arnaud Weyrich said the growing season had been ‘interesting’, with a dry spring, moderately warm summer with one short heat spike, and persistent wildfires throughout July.

‘Whatever the crop, every fruit can suffer from the smoke deposits on the skin,’ he said.

CEO and winemaker at Domaine Carneros, Eileen Crane, said she expected to stat picking around 15 August. Crane, who has made sparkling wine for 30 years, said wines made from smoky grapes require more riddling in the cellar and occasionally don’t clarify properly, although she added there would be little effect on flavour.

Written by Tim Teichgraeber

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