We're in the middle of another crazy, late California harvest. Good but spotty are other themes that run through most of what you hear about California's harvest 2011. And on the horizon, the smaller crops in recent years could spell price increases. In areas where grapes are still hanging, harvest is winding down quickly and should be finished by next week, ahead of predictions of rain and cooler weather.
Harvest 2011 is ending up more labor than labor of love in most parts of California.
"What a crazy year," Helen Keplinger of Keplinger and Bryant Family Vineyard, both based in Napa Valley, wrote in an e-mail yesterday. "Indeed it has been very stressful and those rains were less than ideal, but not all has been lost and there will be good wines made this vintage."
There's been little movement in wine country real estate. Few vineyards or wineries have been sold for the same reasons the rest of the country's real estate market has been stuck. It's a terrible time to sell, and a difficult time to buy or borrow.
Case in point: The late Robert Mondavi's Napa Valley estate is being offered at a sealed-bid auction Nov. 16 in what amounts to a half-off sale. The 56-acre property where the famous vintner and his wife Margrit resided for years came on the market in 2010 for $25 million, then dropped to $20 million, and now a minimum bid of $13.9 million is the asking price.