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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mid-October 2011 Harvest Update

We're right in the middle of harvest.  We've had a couple early season rain storms.  Rain slows the ripening process as the grapes take up lots of water.  This puts a harvest that was already running at least a couple weeks late even farther behind.  The later it goes the larger the chance of more rain.

Most of California is at least three weeks behind schedule because of cooler, wet spring weather and now the autumn rains.  The October rains give a potential for rot.  Most of the whites and earlier ripening reds (Pinot Noir) seem to be in.  The remaining thin-skinned grapes may or may not be in good shape when brought in.  Many brought in their Zinfandel just before the last rain at sugars that may be a bit lower than some years, but that's probably a good thing, in my opinion.   Any Zin still out there, however, is susceptible to rot.
In the Russian River Valley
Photo from Article

Later ripening varieties, as Cabernet, aren't as likely to get rot, but as the ripening process keeps being delayed it becomes as issue to whether the proper sugar levels will be reached while the weather is still warm.  The current long-range weather forecast for Sonoma County is for sunny and warm days--that's good news!

Many are reporting a much smaller, but high quality crop, this year. At this point it appears Chardonnay and Zinfandel crops may be down significantly.  It's unfortunate because a lot of Zin was lost last year, also.   It's too early to tell about the Cabernet.

To the south along the Central Coast of California they are pulling in Chardonnay now before it rots.

Oregon reports potentially their worst harvest ever as the spring and autumn cool, wet weather is not allowing the grapes to ripen. In Washington a below zero period of cold weather last winter has caused damage to the vines resulting in a much smaller crop this year.

Farming: Not for the faint-hearted!