USA (California) - As usual, Californian sparkling wine and white wine producers are the first to begin with the wine harvest. "It is not unusual here to already start the wine crop at the beginning of August, but we would have never expected this because of the ups and downs caused by the weather this year," many Californian vintners say.
This year´s growing season had begun with a frost period in April, which set out to be the hardest since 30 years. After that, an intense heat period occurred, followed by widespread fires, which were superseded by windstorms and rains during the flowering time of the grape vines. These freak weather conditions damaged unprotected vineyards and led to a ripening stop of individual grapes in some places.
Frost damages are especially lamented in the regions of Napa´s Howell Mountain, Creek Valley, Santa Barbara County, and, most notably, in the Santa Rita Hills. Grape varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are in particular affected here. Profit cuts up to 70 per cent are now anticipated in these areas.
Only now can the results of the ripening processes delayed by vegetal conditions be entirely detected. Some of the grapes have fully matured, but others in turn carry green berries. The sensitive grape variety Merlot is in particular affected. Profit cuts of approximately 20 per cent are estimated here.
"Our harvesting teams now need to carefully sort out unripe berries to avoid a sour tone of the wines. On the one hand, this is a very high expense, and, on the other hand, it also means a quantity loss for our vintners," a spokesman of the Californian Association of Winegrape Growers CAWG complaints about the situation.
"This year demands a lot of discipline from our vintners, who have to deal carefully with the smaller yields,"a spokesman of the association says. "However, at the moment, a lot cannot be judged by us yet. Currently, we do not know how the weather will remain and how it will develop. Momentarily, it appears as if we will have two harvest periods. In the second phase, grapes from grape varieties with different degrees of maturity will probably have to be harvested simultaneously due to the disturbed ripeness period." (aw.yoopress)