A powerful storm drenched Northern California over the weekend, putting an exclamation point on a very strange harvest.
Winemakers worked frantically last week to harvest as many grapes as possible in anticipation of the weekend rain, and rain it did, sometimes quite heavily. More than 2 inches fell in Napa, and closer to 3 in areas such as Mendocino and Sonoma, which are closer to the ocean.
Those who beat the storm are excited about quality. For many winemakers who didn't, there is little to do but wait and hope.
The San Francisco Giants playoff run has been a pleasant distraction for many Northern California vintners, watching the skies, weather forecasts and waiting for their grapes to ripen. The Giants are still battling for a shot at the World Series, and vintners are rushing to bring in tons of grapes. And as with pitching, the key to quality is location with the 2010 harvest.
Late and light. Those are the two words I hear most when California winemakers describe harvest 2010, now underway. Late is due to an unseasonably cool year, especially the summer, which many now call the summer that never was. Light refers to the crop, which is small this year. I recently checked up on the progress of vintage 2010 Napa Cabernet and Chardonnay, as well as Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and, perhaps the hardest hit of all, Zinfandel.
For the longest time, Rene di Rosa—the eccentric newspaperman, vineyardist and art collector—championed two underdogs in the wine world: Carneros and Pinot Noir. To him, the two were inseparable.
In that sense he was a visionary, one of the first to plant Pinot in Carneros in his Winery Lake Vineyard. From there, he became a leading advocate, both for the emerging wine region and the grape struggling for recognition and appreciation. We dubbed him Mr. Carneros after he appeared on the cover of Wine Spectator in December 1985, with a story about California’s best vineyard. He loved the nickname. It fit him perfectly.
Di Rosa died Sunday night in Napa.
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