Harvest Widows & Widowers Prepare for Abandonment

Driving through southern Napa Valley and the town of Sonoma yesterday I saw no less than 8 trucks hauling grapes—nice, plump, aromatic grapes. (ever drive behind a truck hauling just-harvested grapes? It smells like I imagine the Welch’s production factory does.)

Harvest is undoubtedly underway here in the North Coast. My reports have Sauvignon Blanc coming in just about everywhere. Pinot can’t be that far behind, particularly in the warmer areas.

There is still a lot that can happen between now and when the last grape is plucked from the vine. But that said, 2007 has been a remarkably uneventful growing season. No weird heat spikes. No unseasonable rain. The fog has been steady. This year however will be remembered for a very mild winter and spring. It just didn’t get too cold and we saw very little rain. That means in many cases the grapes will come in a little early. That’s no worry to the growers. In fact it’s something of a blessing because it reduces the odds of having fall rains catch your grapes on the vine.

Veteran Harvest Widows and Widowers are no doubt readying themselves for their annual abandonment. Toward the middle of the harvest when anything and everything can find their ripeness and demand picking, winemakers are basically on call 24/7 or working 24/7.


9 Responses

  1. Randy - August 15, 2007

    I’m just hoping I won’t miss this year’s harvest (where I was ill and had to listen to the tractors putter by the house over and over hauling the gondolas up and down Nuns Canyon Road to the truck).

  2. Randy - August 15, 2007

    Rather, that was LAST year’s harvest where I was laid up.

  3. Brad Asmus - August 15, 2007

    The exception to the “remarkably uneventful growing season” occured in January in Paso Robles when there were 26 days in a row when minimum temperatures dropped below freezing. Some vines died off entirely while others were traumatized and sent shoots and set buds at rates significantly different than others in the same rows and blocks. Now there are clusters at quite different rates of ripeness in even carefully tended vineyards. Careful hand picking will overcome this, to some degree, but careful pickers are increasingly hard to come by and the whole business is more expensive than one-time-through harvests. My guess is that there will be a big variation in quality of wines resulting from this vintage. The folks who really try hard, will make great wines and others will do dramatically less well. I’ll be looking to Fermentation, its readers and associated blogs to help me find the good stuff when the time comes!

  4. Tom Wark - August 15, 2007

    Thanks for the Paso Update. We didn’t get the big freeze up here. We could have used more rain and I’m sure some growers turned on their water more often than in past years.

  5. Jerry Murray - August 15, 2007

    You have my sympathies, Poor weather in the early season can make a harvest very difficult. Hopefully you’ve done your canopy and fruit thinning diligently so that it is just a matter of doing things when they are ready.
    I hear things are a bit early down there in CA, here in Oregon we are looking at one of the coolest vintages in the past decade. I am just starting to see the first signs of veraison, so picking won’t commence until the end of Sept. or Early October. Unlike CA, we don’t discuss IF the rain is comming we discuss WHEN. This year I am hoping for an indian summer

  6. Anneliese - August 15, 2007

    I love your blog! You give your reading audience a wide range of wine hits to enjoy: From critics’ forms of media, to the high alcohol content debate, to interstate shipping, to this, a post about a possible early crush that leads to comments from north and south detailing regional situations.
    Love it!
    Plus, I’ll be damned, but I get to learn new words. Thanks Jerry for: “veraison.” I wish the creative writing school I attend offered a semester-long class in wine writing. But I guess I have to get out in the real world, and/or read this blog, to learn the good stuff. 🙂
    Thanks everyone for great online reading – Thanks Tom!

  7. drash - August 16, 2007

    Just to jog your memory but Napa had some of the coldest nights on record in January. Temps hit 18 and 19 degrees at our winery for 3 nights straight. Pipes bursting along with it.
    Looks like a A+ potential harvest. We begin Monday. Thanks!

  8. Tom Wark - August 16, 2007

    I seem to recall a couple cold nights here in Glen Ellen too. What we did not have this year (so far) was that wierd 3 day heat spike in June where temps went to 110+ like we did in 2006.
    Good luck!!

  9. el jefe - August 20, 2007

    Crush is coming on in the Foothills too. Verdelho came in on 8/17, and we’ll have Viognier tomorrow (8/21). Have a great crush!

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