Harvest 2007 in California is mostly in the barn.
But there are at least two crops that are still in play.
One is late-harvest, dessert-wine bound grapes, such as Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. In some areas, winemakers are still waiting on late-ripeneing Gewürztraminer and Riesling grapes as well.
Dolce, the Napa winery that produces the rich, honeyed late-harvest wine made mostly from Sémillon, is wrapping up its harvest in the next day or two and I’m planning on catching at least a part of picking, since Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, is one of the most fascinating transformations grapes undergo on their journey to becoming wine.
Botrytis is a beneficial fungus that attacks grapes under certain climatic conditions and causes them to shrivel, deeply concentrating the flavors, sugar and acidity. Noble rot typically occurs very late in the season, when conditions naturally induce the growth of the friendly fungus. But it doesn’t happen every year, and patience is required for these berries to raisin.
The other harvest that’s in full swing is that of olives.
So while you can smell newly fermenting wines from 2007 throughout the valley, the last two crops headed into the barn are the botrytis berries and ripe olives.
In the case of the olives, they may be among the last picked, but the newly processed olive oil is among the first to be enjoyed. Botrytis wines, on the other hand, are several years from release.
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