In nearly 30 years of observing harvests in California and elsewhere, I’ve come to count on two things to be true. The first is that it takes a lot of beer to make good wine; the second is that no two vintages are alike.
In the past few days vintners I’ve talked with are describing 2007 in California as one of those years where it’s more like two harvests instead of one (and you can follow the harvest from the winemaker’s view elsewhere on our site. Thus far we have intervewed Mia Klein, Ted Seghesio and Laurie Hook, and there are many more to come). “I feel like we've been playing dodgeball with the weather over the past week,” Stephanie Putnam, winemaker at Far Niente in Napa Valley wrote in an e-mail yesterday.
After the harvest in Napa and Sonoma got underway earlier this month, with many vineyards being picked, the weather turned unseasonably cool a week ago and harvest stopped. It has also been quite cool in other winegrowing regions throughout the state. You can tell when winemaker's hands aren't stained red.
The weather in Napa warmed up yesterday and may stay cozy for another day and then the forecast is for more cool weather. While this is nerve-wracking for wineries with whites or delicate reds, such as Pinot Noir, still on the vine, heartier reds still have the weather odds in their favor. An October harvest for Cabernet in Napa Valley is usually a good omen. “We’re ripping the grapes off the vine [in Oakville and Rutherford],” I overheard one winemaker say this week, so the action should pick up in the next two weeks.
In a state as big and diverse as California, it’s hard to make generalizations about 2007. I’ve read some comments from winemakers about 2007 being similar to 2004—a small crop that ripened early—and that would be fine with me. As I drove through Napa and Carneros over the weekend, many vineyards were already picked clean. Yet many more were still hanging their crops, which means for many winemakers, the game is still on the vine and the beer is still flowing.
Larry Schaffer — Central Coast — September 26, 2007 8:34pm ET
Holger Berndt — SF — September 26, 2007 10:50pm ET
Roy Piper — Napa, CA. — September 27, 2007 12:11am ET
Jason Thompson — Foster City, CA — September 27, 2007 1:27am ET
Holger Berndt — SF — September 27, 2007 1:35am ET
Holger Berndt — SF — September 27, 2007 11:19am ET
Paul Wick — Portola Valley, CA — September 27, 2007 12:03pm ET
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