Pre-Harvest Report

Today, a pre-harvest note. I will follow up in a few weeks with a report on the official harvest itself.

Some wineries have already started the 2017 harvest, others are not far behind.  It is usually the Sparkling Wine producers that hit the dirt first.  All over Carneros, the first Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes for this year’s bubbly were harvested in early-mid August.

Gandona’s Estate

Gandona Winery (Philippe Melka) Pritchard Hill, Napa

Thanks to some early heat and abundant water availability to the rootzone, a slightly early budbreak was followed by a much cooler bloom, creating a smaller over-all fruit set. The clusters have turned out to be a bit smaller than in the past, but the berries have remained proportionally small which is an ideal skin/juice ratio. This one factor will really add a lot of structure and color to what might turn out to be a “prettier” vintage. While there have been some heat events, it is still cool at night and compared to the past few years, is turning out to be a cooler year over-all. I expect the Gandona wines to be vibrant and energetic more than fat and dense, but with the high skin material, should still be rather powerful.

Byron Kosuge
checking out the fruit

B. Kosuge (Byron Kosuge) Carneros

It was a record breaking wet winter followed by a dry spring. Budbreak, depending upon where you are, was a week to two weeks later than last year, which was a very early vintage.  Despite the wet winter, spring was dry in most of coastal California and the early summer—late May, June and early July—was quite hot. Lots of hydric stress. The result of all this was lots of early growth followed by an earlier than expected need for water.  The plentiful winter rains left lots of moisture in the soil which was beneficial for soil micro life, and the vines overall have a lot less nutrient stress than the last couple of years of the drought. This bodes well for their ability to fully ripen the crop.

Very little has been picked so far so it’s hard to have anything to say about the potential quality. The last two weeks have been cooler than average, with lots of fog, which has been kind to the plants and has kept the fruit in good shape—not much sunburn, dehydration, etc. Harvest for will be starting this weekend and with the warm weather forecast for next week, I think we’ll be quite busy!

Paloma’s Estate Vineyard

Paloma (Sheldon Richards) Spring Mountain

It has been a great growing season at Paloma. An excellent fruit set, especially tin the Merlot. The new Cab Franc block doing very well. You can see a little smoke haze in this photo. No fires in Napa but some in the surrounding counties. No worries!

Paloma’s Estate Vineyard photo

Remember, as always, I am here to answer your wine questions and give recommendations. Don’t hesitate to give me a call at 415-337-4083 or email