Last week’s heat wave-induced grape picking frenzy seems like a distant memory now that temperatures in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino dipped back into the tolerable range over the weekend. This morning it was downright chilly, and the trees and their yellowing leaves are signaling the onset of fall.
While grapes such as Pinot Noir and perhaps Zinfandel in warmer areas took a beating from the scorching sun, cooler-site grapes were fine. With temperatures comfortably in the 80s for this week, sugars, acids and flavors for hanging grapes should come into better balance. The wait card for vintners is back in the deck, so winemakers can be more patient and selective about what gets picked and when.
Harvest is always an exciting time of year. There's so much on the line with the ripening crop, and so much optimism among winemakers, all eager to make their greatest wine, or at least the best wine possible given what nature has provided.
While some years go smoothly, with even ripening and a well-paced harvest, 2008 has been more haphazard, and still looks more like a jigsaw puzzle. The vague outline of the year is taking form, yet with many important pieces still missing.
Larry Schaffer — Central Coast — September 11, 2008 3:11am ET
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