Grape picking will start just two earlier this year for sparkling wine producers in Northern California.
According to the NVV (Napa Valley Vintners) trade organization, despite the dry winter (one of the driest on record), Napa’s vintners and growers are “predicting an abundant, high-quality harvest for the third year in a row.”
“Late and very welcome spring rains set us up well in this otherwise dry year,” noted Ludovic Dervin, winemaker for Mumm Napa (one the wineries who begins picking tomorrow, July 30). “Thanks to the long, moderately warm spring, even flowering, good fruit set and few heat spikes, we’re looking forward to bringing in some beautiful fruit and maybe even an above average yield.”
MORE STARK INSIDER: Stomping Grapes at Stryker in Sonoma
Most grapes in Napa are still harvested by hand–it’s a time consuming, laborious process. I’m often told that it requires lots of sleepless nights, cold beers, not to mention, several good jokes and stories. Many wineries will turn to mechanization of some form to speed the process. Some argue that it can even produce better results; debating its merits against the ages-old hand approach, though, could be akin to solving the Diet Coke/Diet Pepsi debate.
CRUSH: Stomping Grapes During Wine Country Harvest
Sparkling wines kick off harvest in Napa. Soon after, whites–Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, and others–will get picked. Later the richer reds, notably Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa’s most famous grape, will face the razor.
THE LIFE CYCLE OF A GRAPE
1. Winter Pruning
2. Bud Break
4. Fruit Set
5. Canopy Management
6. Crop Thinning
See Napa Valley Vintners for a great explanation of the life cycle of a grape.
The process should last a few months. If you’re looking for a fun visit to wine country, consider planning something in the October-ish time-frame when plenty of “crush” activities are planned. Stomping grapes (see this wild, purple soaked Stark Insider wine video shot at Stryker during crush), I’d argue, is a to-do worthy of any wine fans bucket list, serious oenophile or not.
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THIS. IS. HARVEST!