The large crop set has allowed Foxx and her growers to be more selective in cluster thinning. “Even then, we may have the same number of clusters as last year,” she says. “But, the tonnage could be a little heavier because the clusters weigh more due to perfect berry formation and size. And that’s despite the unusually dry conditions this year. In fact, many of the orchards are dry-farmed and have received almost no water.”

She notes, growers on the summit, where vineyards range in elevation from about 2,000 to 3,000, could be ready to start harvesting by the end of August or early September. Others may begin a month later. Either way, this year’s harvest should be slightly early.

“I’m really excited about the potential quality of this year’s crop,” says Foxx, who favors picking grapes when sugar levels are between 23 and 25 Brix. “Most winemakers seem to be picking at a little earlier Brix now. This year the grapes will be more fully mature at harvest. So, we’ll have Brix and pH numbers that are well balanced. The combination of full flavor maturity and lower Brix will be awesome.

“To be at this stage of the season with the canopies looking as strong as they do and the fruit as well- formed as it is, feels really great. Now we need the good weather to stay with us. We want even temperatures with daytime highs in the 80s and nights cooling to the 50s and 60s. Those would be ideal and often that’s what we experience through the fall.”

If you would like to read more about California grape growing, subscribe to GrapeLine, the exclusive electronic newsletter sponsored twice a month by Chemtura: See here for sign-up. It’s free and e-mailed the second and fourth weeks of each month from March through October.


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