This year the harvest here in California was earlier than normal. In fact in some areas of California, the harvest was as much as 3 to 4 weeks early. Here is a rundown of how the harvest is progressing throughout the state. Some areas have finished picking and most are in the final stages.
In Sonoma County, the harvest season started earlier than normal with the first grapes actually being picked on July 29th for sparkling wine. Both white varieties and red wine grapes were picked by early October. The quality of the crop has been reported as exceptional due to consistent warm weather throughout the growing season. Some areas of Sonoma particularly Alexander Valley reported a smaller crop size than last year by about 5 to 10%.
Napa County finished picking white wine grapes in mid-September. Thankfully, very few vineyards suffered damage from the earthquake. Most are reporting Bordeaux varieties with small berries ideal for producing wines with high intensity in good concentration. Cabernet harvest is expected to be complete by mid-October and Chardonnay volumes look to be about 10% above average.
In the Santa Cruz Mountains, the harvest was the earliest one reported in 70 years, starting on August 4th. Growers finished the harvest at the end of September and reported volume was down 10% from previous years but with high quality.
Looking at Lodi, the harvest progressed at a rapid pace. White grapes for sparkling wines started coming off the vines in late July. The drought did have some effect and caused many varieties to ripen close together. The crop is lighter in most varieties than in the last couple of years. Some red varieties like Syrah also started harvest in August, a few weeks earlier than normal.
Reports from Mendocino County indicate crop yields are below expectations but quality is high.
Lake County also reported early picking with some areas beginning three weeks earlier than normal. The crop appears to be slightly lighter than expected.
All North Coast growing areas have had a long growing season. Spring was warm, summer was hot and the vines were encouraged to keep growing.
In the South Valley near Fresno, one Madera grape grower reported, "in all my life, I have never finished picking grapes in September, let alone the third week in September." Harvest there is about a month ahead of 2013.
Resources for this article: