Everyone is excited about the fantastic weather and the harvesting of the first sauvignon blanc grapes throughout the Napa Valley. Vintner Volker Eisele mentions another blessing for the Napa Valley: Thanks to the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, there have been no European grapevine moths found.
Here’s the next installment of the 2012 harvest report, organized by American Viticultural Areas:
Calistoga — Paul Smith, Vermeil Wines at OnThEdge Winery: Last week saw the beginning of white action while this week it will ramp up significantly with more sauvignon blanc. Crop levels are about average, fruit is clean and of high quality. There has been little red action while some growers remove a scorched or second-crop cluster here and there while hoping for continued great weather.
Diamond Mountain District — Dawnine Dyer, Dyer Vineyards: Cold nights, foggy mornings and surprisingly warm afternoons have been the pattern for the last week — nice, even ripening weather. Few folks on Diamond Mountain have actually sampled grapes yet, but we do have one report of malbec at 22 Brix. Early vineyards could see ripe cabernet by the end of the month.
Howell Mountain — Pat Stotesbery, Ladera Vineyards: Sauvignon blanc has started coming in, albeit slowly and with bright flavors. The reds, with the exception of petit verdot, are pretty much fully colored but nowhere near picking sugar levels. Crop size is normal to slightly above normal with good cluster size. If the weather cooperates, we will be ahead of the last two years.
Chiles Valley District — Volker Eisele, Eisele Vineyards: On this beautiful Labor Day there was nothing but good news from the district. The weather was easy in every respect: no heat spikes or other extremes of any sort. Budbreak, flower, veraison and everything else was right on time. Looking at the color development, picking should be about two weeks earlier than last year. As of last week almost all sauvignon blanc has been picked with very good results for quantity and quality. There was no rot or any other damage to the fruit; and thanks to the efforts of our Ag Commissioner’s Office there were no finds of the European grapevine moth.
Spring Mountain District — Stuart Smith, Smith-Madrone Winery: With warmer weather, Spring Mountain Winery is harvesting some sauvignon blanc and pinot noir. Stony Hill is getting in some chardonnay and Gewürztraminer and Smith-Madrone is also bringing in some chardonnay. Other than these small blocks, the mountain is in a waiting mood. While mostly complete, there are still blocks of reds that have not finished veraison.
St. Helena — Peter Mondavi Jr., C. Mondavi & Family: As is always the case, our estate sauvignon blanc was our first grape to come in on Aug. 29. Napa Valley and St. Helena are showing their true legacy this year with a quintessential growing season, a welcome relief after that last two somewhat taxing vintages. The sauvignon blanc exhibits a lovely citrus tone, consistent with our expectations, and yields higher than expected. Reds are still at least some weeks off but their color and flavors are developing nicely.
Rutherford — Jeff Hill, Jeff Hill Wines: Rutherford is seeing movement. We’re starting this week on sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio. Chardonnay appears to be close and should be ready by next week. All others appear to be climbing steadily as the great weather is providing an optimal growing season. Crop loads appear to be average to a normal year, with nothing too heavy or above the norm.
Oakville — Molly Williams Hodgins, Komes and Garvey Ranches/Flora Springs: In Oakville, the sauvignon blanc harvest is well under way. We expect to pick much of our SB this week. The weather in the near future looks to be ideal for ripening with warm, but not hot, days and cool nights. It won’t be long before we start picking chardonnay and merlot as well.
Yountville — Jennifer Waite, Tamber Bey Vineyards: After a week of cooler weather, the weekend heat spike gave the white grape varietals of the Yountville appellation that much-needed push to optimal Brix levels. As a result, Keever Vineyards picked their sauvignon blanc block on Tuesday morning. We will begin picking our 4-acre block of young-vine chardonnay by the end of this week.
Stags Leap District — Elizabeth Vianna, winemaker, Chimney Rock Winery: Elias Fernandez at Shafer Vineyards reports that they have merlot that could be ready in a couple of weeks. Kristy Melton, winemaker at Clos Du Val, was busy harvesting their first sauvignon blanc from outside the district while their SLD fruit still has a while to go. At Chimney Rock, our estate hillside merlot is getting closer and our winery is impeccably clean as we wait and enjoy the quiet days.
Atlas Peak — Jan Krupp, Stagecoach Vineyards: Near-perfect ripening continues on Atlas Peak. Stellar flavors are apparent in the grapes this year, echoing the wonderful stone fruit harvested in California this summer. Harvest will be starting for the earlier varietals in mid-September.
Mount Veeder — Brian Nuss, Vinoce Vineyards/Twenty Rows: More of the same, which this year is great news. Weather is perfect for the grapes, watering about 6 hours per week per vine. Forecast looks good, slow cooking, and we are looking forward to harvest starting in three to four weeks.
Oak Knoll District — Jon Ruel, Trefethen Vineyards & Winery: Over the past week, we had some cooler and foggier mornings mixed with some beautiful sunny days. The grapes are still advancing wonderfully. Picking for sparkling wine has certainly hit full stride. Pinot noir and chardonnay for still wine are not quite ready yet. The cabernet tastes great even though it still has a ways to go.
Carneros — Lee Hudson, Hudson Vineyards: With mild temperatures continuing, only about a third of the sparkling harvest is in with pinot noir picking out heavier than expected and chardonnays a little light to estimate. Near-perfect weather conditions continue to bless the vintage. Still wine pinot noir and chardonnay is just starting to come in with beautiful flavors and great acids. By mid-week, still wine will be in full swing. The Jolly Roger, our harvest flag, flies again.
Wild Horse Valley — John Newmeyer, Heron Lake Vineyard: Mild but sunny weather this past week — as often happens at this time of year, the summer fog clears in our highland valley before doing so in lower areas. Our pinot noir is getting close to 20 Brix, and is at least a week ahead of the chardonnay.