In farming you never know what Mother Nature will give you. For three years we've had early bud break in the spring followed by an early harvest--and a large wine grape crop.
In "the old days" it seemed you started picking the wine grapes mid-September and finished up at the end of October. Often Sauvignon Blanc is first, Cabernet Sauvignon last (although grapes for sparkling wine are picked less ripe therefore earlier). In recent years we've had warm spring weather or warm, mostly dry, winters (like this year). This kicks off an early growth cycle.
People are already bringing in Cabernet. One Russian River winemaker said he will be completely done within two weeks with the last fruit being some Russian River Valley red grapes--usually some of the slowest to ripen. He also said he'll be done this year before he had even started a few years ago in a year with a very cool summer!
It's not just an early harvest this year, but it looks like a compressed one, meaning it'll be over quickly. If you want to raise a toast to the 2014 vintage do it for the harvest crews working the long hours with no days off.
Following three years in a row of early growing seasons and big crops what does this mean for quality? I don't think anyone is quite sure if wine quality will be affected. As least no one is saying. The proof will be in the bottle a year or two or three from now.
Why has this happened for three years in a row? Some will point to global warming. Or it may just be a natural occurring climatic event as we had four cooler summers in a row before the last three years.
|Sorting Pinot Noir on August 21st this year|
Follow the action: A live camera from a custom crush facility south of Napa (yes, near where the earthquake happened). Cam