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Harvest Update 2018

It’s a difficult thing.  To get an update on harvest from winemakers during harvest.  Harvest, for better or worse, is a crucible of 16 hour days, in fact that it’s so bad that winemaker spouses joke that there are harvest widows, those left behind during the 12 weeks of average 16 hour days.  Some elementary schools go so far as offering later after school care during harvest.  It’s a crazy time. Here’s some more information on 2018 harvest in both Napa Valley and Sonoma.

Video Transcription: Hi all. Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. In any case, I wanted to give everybody a quick harvest update. So, no scattered bottles of wine today, although I know that’s always fun.

So, harvest is kind of in full swing in some areas and not even happening in others. So, I’ve talked to Sonoma Winemaker who makes mostly Pinot and Chardonnay and she said that she has three picks this week, and then she’s done. Meanwhile, some of my friends on the central coast, they’ve said they haven’t picked anything, including rosé. So you get these huge swings, but the frank matter for the year is that it’s been a pretty cold summer in California, at least in much of it, so winemakers were kind of begging for heat at some point to get the grapes to ripen those last few bricks.

So bricks is the sugar content in the wine. 17, 20, 22, 24, depending on what kind of style people want to make is kind of the range where people pick. Often, it’s the hardest to get them from that 17 to whatever that finishing wine is, and that’s where you need the most heat. And I think this year we’re gonna see the largest dichotomy between early picks … Not early, but late picks in some areas, but then extremely late picks in others, and that’s driven by two things. First, of course, local climate plays a big role, but then second, when you have cold years, it takes a lot longer to ripen these thicker skin grapes that are … Like, [inaudible 00:01:28] is an example. So if you’re growing Carignan or Syrah, you’re probably, fingers crossed, hoping beyond hope that the rain that’s coming this week in parts of the state is not gonna hit you very hard because it’s not even supposed to be warm after that, so that really is the issue that we’re gonna start running into.

As the picks for these thicker skin grapes move later and later in the year, these are also the grapes that are most at-risk for stuff like mildew, which happens from moisture. But, this part of the year is also where we have the most moisture coming in, and it’s the coolest part of the growing season, so it’s the least chance for the moisture to dry out. So you’re gonna have people, I think, in some areas of the central coast, at least, that are going to have to make some real decisions about should we let this hang on the vine, or maybe we should make something that’s a little bit more acidic. So, for all those folks that say California can’t make anything that’s Frenchman style, they might get their wish this year.

So, in any case, that’s the quick harvest update. We’ll have some harvest for your guys probably coming this week, and it’s been a fun 10 days or so. Hope everybody’s doing well.

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