Does anyone have any knowledge about this year's harvest? general quality,
price, etc? The reefer trucks (not THAT kind!) will be pulling into the
Boston Produce Center soon enough & a little heads up would be appreciated.
TIA & regards, bobdrob.
I don't know about our 'easterly neighbor' Lodi, per se, but I read in
the news we are about two-three weeks away from beginning harvest in
earnest in Sonoma County, California. The two week hot spike we
recently had was reported in the local newspaper to have caused only
small amount of crop damage (less than 10% of crop affected). The vines
just 'shut down' in the heat and seem to be recovering OK.
Have yet to hear what the quality of grapes will be. I personally would
be surprised if the quality is not at least GOOD. Maybe not quite as
great as last year, an unusually good year 2005 was (the slow, steady
ripening last year developed some fine flavors, just ended up needing
some tartaric acid additions to achieve acid balance).
that's good to know & i thank you for the quick reply! the 4 major grape
vendors here all seem to cut deals w/ the suppliers who favor those
commercial growers, so we really don't get much of a choice. 6 whites, maybe
8-10 red varietals plus the dreaded "mixed black." thanx again for the
I haven't talked to any Lodi growers (yet), but up here in the Sierra
Foothills (a couple hours east of Lodi, and higher in altitude) we've had a
peculiar season; a late spring, resulting in a late bud break. Veraison was
within days of the same dates as last year. My vines are all vigorous this
year, with a healthy crop. I can't yet speak to quality, but there aren't
any obvious flaws with the season. My one concern is that heat wave - and
whether it has affected the development of the grapes / flavor at all. We'll
see! Harvest looks like it may be a little earlier this year than last.
A lug of "mixed black" is a case of non-specified black grapes : factory
2nds, unidentified varietals, case fillers, etc. One never knows what
exactly is in a "mixed black" grapes. That being said, they usually run a
couple of bucks per case cheaper than a varietal and ain't real bad on
the whole. A lot of the olde timers use them & make decent jug wine.
Here's what the local Santa Rosa, California newspaper had to say about
this year's area harvest.....
"It's waiting time for first harvest [in Sonoma County, California]
Wet spring means grapes for champagne need up to two weeks more to ripen
By TIM TESCONI
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
A year ago winemaker Craig Roemer of Calistoga's Schramsberg Vineyards
was up to his elbows pressing grapes for champagne.
But Roemer said it could be another 10 days to two weeks before he
squeezes the season's first grapes. The wet spring got grapevines off to
a late start in their growth cycle, leaving anxious winemakers and
growers waiting to launch the 2006 crush.
"The harvest is a bit later than normal and it's slow going as we wait,"
Roemer said Monday. "But there's nothing we can do until the grapes
reach the right sugars so it's the old hurry-up-and-wait game."
The North Coast grape crush started on Aug. 9 last year. Grapes used for
sparkling wine traditionally start the harvest because they are picked
at lower sugar levels than grapes used to make still wines like
chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.
Growers said the prolonged heat wave in July actually slowed the
maturity in wine grapes. When temperatures reach 100 degrees and higher,
the grapevines shut down and stop the sugar-making process in the fruit.
While waiting for the grapes to ripen, winemaker Roemer uses the time to
clean and re-clean the winery, scrubbing and sanitizing floors, tanks
and equipment. Sanitation is the winemaker's mantra.
"We turn over every stone in the winery to make sure everything is
clean," he said. "Once the grapes start coming and it all breaks loose,
we will be going every day through the end of October."
The weeks leading to harvest are what Sonoma Valley grape grower Ned
Hills describes as the "calm before the storm." The major work is done
in the vineyards and crews kick-back a bit while waiting for the harvest
Hill said grapes are behind in maturity compared to last year. He said
grapes that he tested on Monday only had 15.5 degrees sugar. The same
week last year grapes from the same vineyard tested at 21.5.
"We're looking at a later harvest, which is OK as long as the weather
holds and we don't get any early rain storms," said Hill.
Duff Bevill, a Healdsburg grape grower and vineyard manager, expects to
harvest his first grapes for still wine, sauvignon blanc from the Dry
Creek Valley, the first week of September. He predicts it will be a
faster, more compact crush than last year's prolonged harvest, which was
slowed by cool weather and the bumper crop hanging on the vines. Grapes
were still being picked in November last year.
Bevill said this year's crop, depending on the varietal, is average to
below-average in tonnage. He said the smaller load on the vines will
provide more even, consistent ripening during the final stages of maturity.
Sebastopol grower Kirk Lokka, who grows grapes for Goldridge Pinot, said
his grapes are 10 days behind last year in terms of maturity. He
estimates he will be picking pinot for still wine by Sept. 15.
"The grapes must be getting ripe because the birds are starting to take
notice," said Lokka. "We'll start putting up netting next week to keep
them from eating the crop.""