2009 Napa Valley harvest: underway in a very big way

by TrevR on September 30, 2009

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Two big themes come through loud and clear in this week’s update from our three local wineries.

First, the big news is harvest is finally in full swing across the valley. From up on Spring Mountain at Smith-Madrone, to Swanson Vineyards in Oakville and Piña Napa Valley in Rutherford, fruit is reaching its ideal stage and is being brought in from the vineyards to the wineries. The other theme is a decidedly optimistic view of the 2009 harvest–with each winery noting some high quality fruit coming in.

Read on for the full updates…

Managing Partner Stuart Smith commented on the upbeat feelings towards this year’s harvest and the comfortable spacing between varietals to date…

A very hot week is now past us and harvest is getting harder to generalize. Some of us are finished with Merlot and some are still waiting. Cain, 7 & 8 and Smith-Madrone believe the flavors and sugars are right for picking Cabernet straight through and others like Keenan and Schweiger are just picking around the edges. Even with the heat, it’s been a pleasant harvest with good spacing between varieties, adequate tank capacity and no panic – we’re all pretty up about this harvest.

Swanson Vineyards
Vineyard manager Ross Hall explained what impact the latest heat wave to hit the valley last weekend had on the red varietals…

Harvest is underway in a very big way. The last warm (read hot) spell jolted our vines into “hyper drive” as sugar content and fruit maturity developed at a rapid pace, bringing on the onset of our red variety harvest. This past week began with us bringing in our first Merlot grapes. Our Merlot harvesting continued through the week and should finish up in another week.

After the Merlot is all in, it looks as if the patiently waiting Cabernet Sauvignon will be at its peak and ready for harvest. With the weather cooling off a bit, conditions should slow down the Cabernet enough to allow us to finish up Merlot quietly before starting our Cab harvest.

Imagine that! The weather cooperating to allow us to harvest in varietal order without the usual anxiety of finding tank space, pushing press crews to their limit or worrying over grapes that are ready but we can’t bring in because “there’s no room in the winery.”

We are all still exited over the high quality of the fruit this year, both white and red. The yields are not huge, more toward a moderate tons/acre year, but the quality is excellent. 2009 certainly is going to be a memorable year as the wines we’re able to produce with this year’s crop are going to be award winners, without a doubt.

Piña Napa Valley
Partner John C. Piña noted the winery finished picking in both Rutherford and Oakville earlier this week…

We are finally in full speed ahead. We are no longer just selectively harvesting the clusters that are showing a little shrivel, regular harvest is in full swing. We picked the last of our Rutherford this morning and the Oakville. The fruit looks and tastes great.

Don’t forget about our other Harvest 2009 coverage.

[techtags: Napa, Napa Valley, wine, winery, harvest 2009, napa wine grape harvest, napa harvest 2009]

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has written 725 posts on The Cork Board. He was born and aged in the Napa Valley and has a passion for wine, writing and social media, which led him to co-found this blog in early 2007. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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