Harvest Report: Sauvignon blanc harvest picks up

2013-08-28T10:51:00Z 2013-08-29T20:03:46Z Harvest Report: Sauvignon blanc harvest picks upJesse Duarte Napa Valley Register
August 28, 2013 10:51 am  • 

With sauvignon blanc rolling in, “harvest has truly begun,” reports Volker Eisele of Eisele Vineyards.

Whites are off to an early start in many appellations, but growers are taking advantage of ideal weather conditions to give their reds some more hang time. Elizabeth Vianna of Chimney Rock Vineyards says a few growers in the Stags Leap District plan to harvest reds just after Labor Day, while other correspondents from around the valley are predicting a red harvest in mid- to late September.

Here’s the latest installment of the 2013 harvest report, organized by American Viticultural Areas:

Calistoga — Paul Smith, Vermeil Wines at OnThEdge Winery — “A look at my V-12 crush data notes our whites (sauvignon blanc, semillon, muscat) were harvested during the same week as V-13. Harvest with these is in full swing. Yields here are significantly higher than V-12. Sugars and acids are both high. Have seen sunburn damage in some of the reds, which I believe continue to lag other areas of the valley in color and maturity development.”

Diamond Mountain District — Dawnine Dyer, Dyer Vineyards — “Not much to report from Diamond Mountain. We enjoyed good ripening weather last week with warm nights and a full moon, but even the gruner at von Strasser is a week away. Some merlot bumping 23 on Kortum Canyon, but most of us will be watchfully waiting for another few weeks.”

Howell Mountain — Pat Stotesbery, Ladera Vineyards — “The first whites, sauvignon blanc, have started coming off the mountain, and more will get picked late this week but certainly not all. Reds are colored, with the possible exception of petit verdot, but not yet ready for the picking knife. Generally things look to be at least 10 days ahead of last year with perfect weather in the forecast.”

Chiles Valley District — Volker Eisele, Eisele Vineyards — “Harvest has truly begun. A lot of sauvignon blanc was picked during the past week. The results were rather encouraging. Yields are generally up from last year and so is the quality. We are finding full flavors at somewhat lower sugars, which, of course, translates into lower alcohols. The weather remains near ideal. Daytime temperatures are in the low 80s and cool nights down to 48 to 52 degrees. All this ensures slow and even ripening. Colors are deep and dark, boding well for quality. Cabernet sauvignon will not be ready before at least the 15th to 20th of September.”

Spring Mountain District — Stuart Smith, Smith-Madrone Winery — “Spring Mountain is slowly moving toward harvest with most expecting to start in the next week or two. Merlot appears to be another heavy year, and while cabernet sauvignon is heavier than last year, most are hoping for at least an average crop. The weather has been ideal.”

St. Helena — Peter Mondavi Jr., Charles Krug Winery — “Sauvignon blanc was off to an early start with our first pick on the 19th, a full 10 days earlier than last year and now nearing 50 percent complete! We already have a merlot block at 25 Brix but want more hang time. We skirted the rains that threatened our area, and we see a welcoming cooling trend to help stave off any accelerated sugar accumulation. The fruit is coming in clean and sound and yet another bumper crop, uncharacteristic after last year’s record-setting crop. The sauvignon blanc juice flavors are classic: lime, grapefruit, grass, honeydew — luscious!”

Rutherford — Kristin Belair, Honig Vineyard & Winery — “Our first Rutherford sauvignon blanc was harvested on Aug. 19, 10 days earlier than last year. It was the beginning of what proved to be a busy week. Moderating weather toward the end of last week has allowed us to relax a bit as the sugars are moving more slowly and flavors are intensifying. That said, many vineyards are at that ‘almost ready’ phase, so we expect to be quite busy again by the end of this week.”

Yountville — Jennifer Waitte, Tamber Bey Vineyards — “Tamber Bey Vineyards’ winemaker Frederic Delivert has called the pick! Harvest has officially started for us. Vineyard manager Josh Clark picked block 10 of our Deux Chevaux Vineyard Chardonnay in Yountville on Monday, anticipating taking about 2 tons of Dijon Chardonnay Clone 95. Clark also made the first pass at our Tench Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc in Oakville on Tuesday, picking an estimated 7 tons.”

Oakville — Molly Hodgins, Flora Springs Winery — “We continue to harvest sauvignon blanc and expect to finish picking all SB by early next week. Yields and quality are high. With this continuing warm weather, all varieties are ripening quickly. Chardonnay, merlot and malbec are nearing maturity, and cabernet sauvignon is not far behind. We hope to move right along with harvest after all of our sauvignon blanc is picked.”

Stags Leap District — Elizabeth Vianna, Chimney Rock Winery — “It looks like several winemakers in the Stags Leap District will start harvesting red grapes right after Labor Day this year. Benoit Touquette, winemaker at Hartwell Vineyards, tells me they are waiting and sharpening tools while things are moving slowly towards the right direction. Elias Fernandez, at Shafer Vineyards, plans on harvesting some SLD Merlot right after the long weekend. At Chimney Rock, we don’t expect anything red on our crush pad until after Labor Day — we are delighted by the prospect of a long weekend as this is a rare occurrence for wine folk.”

Atlas Peak — Jan Krupp, Stagecoach Vineyards — “The weather has cooled down on Atlas Peak, which will lead to more hang time. This should further improve wine quality from what appears to be an excellent wine. Early varietals like sauvignon blanc and chardonnay should be harvested next week.”

Mount Veeder — Brian Nuss, Vinoce Vineyards/ Twenty Rows — “The weather has been up and down, everyone is basically done with the final passes on thinning the crop. One hundred percent veraison looks like we should be picking some cabs by mid- to late September. Over at Lagier Meredith, they will start picking some fruit (but not all) the week of Sept. 2. The fruit looks great. They had an excellent fruit set and have done quite a bit of cluster thinning as well to bring the crop load into balance.”

Oak Knoll District — Jon Ruel, Trefethen Vineyards & Winery — “As we reach the end of August, the grapes are looking beautiful and moving along toward ripeness. The numbers are getting within range and the flavors are developing. The sauvignon blanc harvest in the Oak Knoll District will be picking up shortly. Other varieties will likely hang longer, building more character.”

Carneros — Lee Hudson, Hudson Vineyards — “Our first full week of harvest went very smoothly. 2013 so far has been a moderate to light crop of beautiful chardonnay and pinot noir. Weather remains near perfect with mild nights and warm days, and the forecast is for more of the same. By the end of this week, we will have had 10 harvest days prior to Sept. 1; a beautifully early harvest.”

Wild Horse Valley — John Newmeyer, Heron Lake Vineyard — “The water temperature of Heron Lake serves as a rough measure of accumulated ‘degree days’ up here. The lake’s been quite cool this summer — which surprises us, as our grapes are now at 20 Brix, well ahead of their typical levels for late August.”

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