A Summer Harvest Report

by St. Supery on July 9, 2013

Those of us who are longtime Napa residents can say without hesitation that we are having a fantastic year of weather. We had a fairly dry winter and a lovely warm spring. More recently we were treated with a refreshing rainstorm followed directly by a short heat spell the week of July 4th. The buzz in the industry is that everyone needs to be gearing up for harvest because it’s going to be an early one. But you know how buzz can be…

While all of us at the winery can confirm it has been a very warm and sunny 2013, only a few of us are qualified to comment on what this weather means for our estate grapevines, so we asked our Director of Vineyard Operations, Geoff Gatto, for his expert assessment. In Geoff’s own words…

“Anticipation is high, as the workers know that in a short time, harvest will be upon us. With the wonderful weather this far, the grapes appear to be one week ahead of schedule based on historical data.”

When pressed, because really – how can Geoff know that the grapes are approximately one week ahead of schedule?— Geoff revealed that the secret is in knowing exactly how grapes develop in June and July.

According to our expert, towards the end of June and the first part of July, the berries are rapidly growing in a stage referred to as bunch closure. Usually by the end of July, the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc berries begin to soften and slightly change color, a process called veraison (veraison is a few weeks later in the red varieties). At veraison, berries on red varieties begin to change color from green to red. From veraison on, most of the plant’s resources are directed from leaves, shoots, and roots to the berry for rapid sugar accumulation. After veraison, berries begin to gain many of the varietal characteristics that will be found in the ensuing wine as well as tannins and other compounds. Once veraison has taken place, it’s time to get ready…harvest is surely around the corner.

But, it’s not always that easy. As Geoff reminded us, the course of development can change in the blink of an eye, depending on what Mother Nature has in store. So I guess we can’t hold him to it if harvest ends up being not quite exactly one week earlier than average this year, which should be a few weeks ahead of our harvest last year.

  • http://cashone.com/ Robin Williams

    Thank you guys for such a lovely and informative blog post.
    I hope the harvesting points discussed above are really going to help the
    farmers or the agricultural industry.

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