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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

N California summer weather

2017 has been a remarkable year for weather so far. Record rains and snow over the 2016-17 winter followed by a somewhat delayed spring. Now that summer is here it can be summed up for much of the state with one word -- hot. I'm speaking to the Sonoma County area, but much of this is happening to the entire state.

Aug 1st. Russian River Vly  Petite Sirah 
ripening a bit later than average this year. 
Definitely later than during the drought years.
Photo from Paradise Ridge Winery
The immediate coastal areas, as usual, have been spared the heat. Much of the rest of the state's prime grape growing areas haven't. Typically you get stretches of warm, seasonal temperatures followed by a couple days of heat then things cool down. This year has been long stretches of temps running 10 to 20 degrees above normal with a few days of average temps then the heat comes back. Much of the West has been hot.

What does this mean for the quality of the wines this year? Too early to tell.

Yes, it takes heat to ripen grapes. Most will tell you warm, sunny days with cool nights are ideal. But too much heat can mean unbalanced wines. Maybe raisiny flavors, maybe too much alcohol, maybe sweet, uninteresting wines. But that's all just a maybe as it's too early to know--there's lots of growing season left.