Drink up! California grape harvest sparkling with success
NAPA VALLEY, Calif. – After the August earthquakes that struck California’s Napa Valley amid an ongoing drought, vintners now have some good news to toast: It’s an excellent and early vintage year for great grapes.
The Wine Institute reports that a mild winter and spring caused early bud break. A compacted harvest began in July for sparkling wines and started winding down by mid-October for later ripening varieties. Moderate temperatures, with only minimal rain in September, allowed for even ripening.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Pacific Regional Crop Production Report for August, California’s wine grape production this year is forecast at 3.9 million tons, down 8 percent from 2013’s record high crop, but the third largest on record.
This year “will be noted as one of the earliest vintages in over a decade, but it will also go down as one of the best,” said Renee Ary, winemaker at Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa Valley. “Challenged by drought, an earthquake, rain, hail and significant heat, you would think there would be a lot of obstacles to navigate.”
“However, the timing of the events paired with some planning allowed us to dodge these curveballs and land another fantastic vintage,” Ary said. “Tannins are in check and berries are small, which is translating into great balance and concentration in the cellar. Yields and quality are above average across all varieties, and I am anticipating a lot of beautiful 2014 wines to come.”
Source: The Wine Institute