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Correspondents from a few appellations report being finished with this year’s harvest, but work continues in most parts of the valley.

Across the board, growers are impressed with the quality of this year’s crop, and with the weather that’s been “as close to perfect as any old-timer can recall,” reports Paul Smith of Vermeil Wines.

Here’s the latest installment of the 2012 harvest report, organized by American Viticultural Areas:

Calistoga — Paul Smith, Vermeil Wines at OnThEdge Winery: “Last week was very active with some growers finishing. This week’s predicted heat will likely bring in all but the latest cabernet on the latest sites. Yields have been average to slightly high while wines off the press are deeply colored with broad, rich, fruity flavors and show great promise. The story has been the weather; as close to perfect as any old-timer can recall.”

Diamond Mountain District — Dawnine Dyer, Dyer Vineyards: “This is the sweet spot for harvest 2012 on Diamond Mountain. An informal survey had the harvest 40 percent in at the end of last week and maybe 70 percent by the end of this one. Reverie and Dyer finished last week, while those with more diverse aspects and vine age continue to pick their way carefully through the cleanest fruit we’ve seen in several years. The crop continues to be above average in both quantity and quality.”

Howell Mountain — Pat Stotesbery, Ladera Vineyards: “Picking! All varietals are inbound with a general consensus of high quality. And despite many reports from the valley floor, there are a number of growers who agree that the size of the harvest is down this year. We seem to be counter-cyclical to the valley, which saw a smaller crop last year where many on our mountain saw the opposite. Heat this week should seal the schedule for maximum picking.”

Chiles Valley District — Volker Eisele, Eisele Vineyards: “It was from heat to cold. At least we did not get any rain. So as a result, only grapes that had matured during the previous week were picked, especially zinfandel. Very little cabernet was brought in. One thing is clear: the quality of the fruit so far is downright fabulous. So far the harvest is about 50 to 60 percent complete. We all hope that the warmer weather this week will push everything across the goal line.”

Spring Mountain District — Stuart Smith, Smith-Madrone Winery: “It’s been another week of everyone doing their own thing on their own time. Some wineries are very busy picking this week, while others are taking it slow and waiting. Some are done and cleaning up while others are just beginning. If you’re high on the mountain your cabernet crop is down, if you’re closer to the valley your cabernet crop is up. The one commonality is the merlot crop is both large and late.”

St. Helena — Dave Yewell, Yewell Family Vineyards: “It was a big week for bringing in some exquisite fruit. Cooler weather created a little wiggle room to free up some tanks, also good for the crews. This week we will be into full-bore cabernet sauvignon picking. The sugars are up and stabilizing, acids nice, seeds brown, and the plants are basically slowly shutting down. Great vintage — up to the winemakers now!”

Rutherford — Anna Monticelli, winemaker, Piña Napa Valley: “We have been steadily harvesting grapes from our Rutherford, Oakville, Oak Knoll and Yountville vineyards. We will have another push of heat this week that will ripen our later-maturing blocks and our Howell Mountain fruit. The quality looks fantastic this year!”

Oakville — Molly Hodgins, Flora Springs Winery: “Any cabernet in Oakville that isn’t ready for harvest now should be ready by the end of the week. Whether or not there is space for it at the winery is another matter. This year’s large crop means tight tank and barrel space some places. Stacy Vogel of Miner family remarked that they are picking their last Oakville cab this week. She said, ‘We can see the light at the end of the tunnel!’”

Yountville — Jennifer Waite, Tamber Bey Vineyards: “After a week of cool weather that left Brix levels hanging just below optimal, this week’s heat spike was just what was needed to gain those final few desired points. We will pick the sunny side of the cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit verdot blocks first and then return a few days later to harvest the balance of the fruit.”

Stags Leap District — Elizabeth Vianna, winemaker, Chimney Rock Winery: “Michael Beaulac, winemaker at Pine Ridge, reported that they had hit their halfway point just before the weekend and would be finished with SLD fruit on Tuesday. He was ‘busy, busy’ and reporting that yields are healthy. Kristy Melton, winemaker at Clos Du Val, only had two blocks to go in SLD with ‘every round and square vessel in the winery filled with grapes or wine.’ We are at the midway point and have a little more fruit to bring in. Our crew is having a pump-over-only weekend while we wait for the last few blocks to hit their perfect point. We are thrilled with the quality of fruit in Stags Leap District and the favorable weather in the last few weeks.”

Atlas Peak — Jan Krupp, Stagecoach Vineyards: “Harvest is proceeding with excellent fruit of many

varietals on Atlas Peak. The merlot and white grape harvests are almost over with terrific cabernet sauvignon, malbec, syrah and cabernet franc being harvested every day.”

Mount Veeder — Brian Nuss, Vinoce Vineyards/ Twenty Rows: “We picked about 15 tons of cabernet sauvignon last week and another 10 this week, with the rest of our cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc coming in the week of the 22nd. Over at Lagier Meredith they finished picking their syrah, malbec, zinfandel and mondeuse Oct. 4. Overall everyone seems pretty happy with the fruit.”

Oak Knoll District — Jon Ruel, Trefethen Vineyards & Winery: “Another week goes by and we’re still loving 2012. Around the Oak Knoll District, growers are picking cabernet sauvignon and some other Bordeaux varieties. With the fine weather, there is no panic and wineries are enjoying the opportunity to pick when the grapes are just right (and the tanks are ready for more fruit). Go Giants!”

Carneros — Lee Hudson, Hudson Vineyards: “This is the first harvest in many years we have not worked a single Saturday or a Sunday, for the pace has been uniquely deliberate and calm. We have been given such moderate temperatures with slow even maturation that the flavors, sweetness and acid are in harmony. All this is certain to give both a solid and profound vintage. This coming week we will finish up the ends of the syrah, and merlot and the end is in sight. Onward.”

Wild Horse Valley — John Newmeyer, Heron Lake Vineyard: “We’ve shut down the vines after one final watering. What brilliant fall colors! Mostly yellow, but touches of red and orange as well. We’ve also very nearly finished all the (primary) fermentations and are ready to complete barreling-down everything for the winter. It’s been a satisfyingly ‘ordinary’ season.”


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