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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Rush to the Crush

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The heat is on!

Several days of hot weather in Sonoma County, including some record-setting temperatures, has some growers smiling and others frowning.

Grape growers have been asking for heat to help ripen this year's crop that is well behind schedule.   They got it this week.   But some also got dehydrated grapes and crop loss.   The hardest hit seems to be the Pinot Noir.   In fact, pretty much everybody wants to bring in their Pinot for processing NOW!  Look for traffic jams in Carneros and the Russian River Valley from all the grape trucks.   Also, look for people picking the grapes in the pre-dawn cooler weather.

It's estimated only about 10% of the crop is in so far this year when on average about 40% is already picked.  The heat is speeding things up as sugars rise rapidly, but you also need the correct acids.  

I don't know if we will see a lot of great Pinot Noir from the 2010 crop.  It's certainly too early to tell, but if I want to guess I'd say Pinot and Zinfandel may not have one of their best years, though Cabernet could still do well.  I haven't heard much about the Chardonnay crop except that it got hit hard with sunburn in an August heat spike and a lot of the Chard turned into raisins.  On the other hand, some say a late-ripening crop leads to better flavors and better wines overall.  We'll see.