SAN FRANCISCO — The 2012 California wine grape harvest yielded generous amounts of high-quality fruit, and winemakers across the state are describing this year’s vintage as “excellent,” “outstanding” and “ideal,” according to a press release from the Wine Institute.
“The 2012 vintage will offer consumers in our growing national and international markets fantastic choices,” said Robert P. Koch, president and CEO of Wine Institute. “The California winegrape harvest is estimated at 3.7 million tons, up from 3.3 million tons in 2011.”
“Mother Nature smiled upon the California wine harvest this year with a bountiful crop of amazing quality,” added Kathleen Heitz, president of Heitz Wine Cellars.
“It was a good harvest season for the California wine grape crop, and both growers and vintners should be happy,” said Nat DiBuduo, president and CEO of Allied Grape Growers. “The quality of grapes was very good, and the crop was average to above average depending on the region and variety. Although there were late rains in October, 85-95 percent of the crop had already been harvested. The California wine grape crop should hit the 3.7 million tons estimated earlier in the year. Overall, the biggest problem this year was that many of the red varietal grapes came in at the same time, filling wineries to capacity. Wineries dealt with the problem by scheduling growers as tank space came available.”
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“The 2012 harvest has been exceptional,” said Frank Cabral, director of grower relations for Trinchero Family Estates. “Moderate weather throughout the growing season has put little pressure on the vines, and provided grapes with well-balanced chemistries. The 2012 harvest is making up for the low yielding 2011 crush, with most varieties picking at above average yields. The 2012 harvest is shaping up to be one that will become known for its abundance of fruit and quality of wines.”
“The 2012 harvest on the North Coast can be summed up in one word, ‘outstanding,’” reported Bob Blue, Winemaker at Bonterra Vineyards in Ukiah. “It was back to a normal harvest picking timeline, only slightly later on the calendar than an average year, with an abundance of sunshine. Overall, the quality has really been special this year, the fruit is ripe and concentrated. There were no disease issues with any of the grapes.”
“This was one of the more idyllic growing seasons that we’ve had,” concurred Aron Weinkauf, winemaker and vineyard manager at Spottswoode Estate Vineyard and Winery in St. Helena. “The fairly mild weather allowed us to wait for fruit maturity in order to make our preferred style of wine. We were pushed to our limit to accommodate the quantity of fruit we harvested, but I am extremely happy with the overall quality and balance of the wines.”
“This year, we have been blessed with ideal weather,” continued Hank Wetzel of Alexander Valley Vineyards in Sonoma County. “The harvest has been excellent. Growing conditions throughout the year have been ideal for producing a bumper crop of mature grapes with balanced flavors.”
Paso Robles had more heat, and the crop level was not as abundant as in the North Coast, but it reports similarly high quality fruit. “Overall, we’re excited about the 2012 harvest in Paso Robles,” said Jason Diefenderfer, winemaker at Hope Family Wines. “Flavor-wise, the grapes are really showing great, which should lead to round and robust flavors. As our flavors continue to mature, it’s looking like this could be one of the better vintages we’ve had in the last 10 years.”
Michael McCay, owner and winemaker of McCay Cellars in Lodi, is also enthusiastic about the harvest: “I love the brightness and the deep, rich flavors we are getting across the board. The zinfandels are upfront but also showing great potential. All of our 2012 zinfandels are finishing at alcohols lower than 15 percent — most of them closer to 13.5 percent. I really believe it’s going to end up being the best wines we’ve ever made.”