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First grapes picked in Napa Valley 2022 harvest

There has been early optimism around quality after harvest teams picked the first grapes for sparkling and white wines in Napa Valley.

The Napa Valley 2022 harvest got underway in early August for some sparkling and white wine styles.

‘We had our earliest harvest ever, and started picking Sauvignon Blanc on Monday 1 August,’ said Stephanie Honig, of Honig Vineyard and Winery.

‘The fruit came from our grower partner Gordon Family Ranch, which is located in the southeast area of the Napa Valley appellation,’ said Honig, who is export director at the family-owned winery.

Harvest typically begins with older blocks of vines that are relatively low yielding, she told Decanter. The first grapes are intended for Honig’s Classic Sauvignon Blanc label.

More generally, she said moderate daytime temperatures and cool nights were creating excellent conditions for ripening. ‘Everything looks fantastic so far and yields are a little higher than we forecasted, which is a great news since we have had some short vintages recently.’

Sparkling wine producer Chandon California also said it brought in around 30 tonnes of Chardonnay grapes at around midnight on Wednesday 3 August.

Calistoga-based sparkling producer Schramsberg also posted a video on Twitter on 4 August of its first Pinot Noir grapes coming into the cellar.

Chandon winemaker Pauline Lhote said that, despite frost, hail and drought creating challenges during the growing season, she was excited about the quality of the 2022 vintage.

‘We are seeing beautiful bright acidity this year, which is great for sparkling wines,’ she said.

Cooler-than-average temperatures since the onset of veraison – the start of ripening – have helped to preserve acidity and fresh fruit character, she added.

‘I’m excited about the exceptional fruit starting to come in, and this mild weather around harvest is ideal for the development of beautifully balanced aromas and flavours.’

Yields were slightly lower in some vineyards this year, due to drought and an unexpected summer frost, said Yountville-based Chandon, which is part of French group Moët Hennessy.

Chandon also said it had used recycled water to irrigate more than 90% of its vineyards, and has taken extra measures to make its estate is ‘fire-ready’ in 2022 – including new fire break lines and sprinklers.

Looking ahead to this year’s Cabernet Sauvignon harvest in Napa Valley, Stephanie Honig said some Cabernet sites were likely to be picked slightly earlier than normal.

‘We only produce Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, and usually these are staggered at the winery during harvest season since Sauvignon Blanc ripens early in the season and Cabernet Sauvignon ripens late,’ she said via email. ‘However, this year we expect Cabernet to start coming in a little earlier and we will have some overlap most likely in early September.’

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