Unusually favorable weather this summer, following a cold, wet spring, has left Jim Verhey and a number of other Napa County grape growers feeling good about the wine-making prospects, if not the size, of this year’s crop.

“Everyone I talked with at the end of August was comfortable with the way the whites have come along, and are very optimistic about the reds,” says grower Verhey, CEO of Premiere Viticultural Services in Napa, Calif. “But, the consensus was that quantity is definitely down this year,” he told GrapeLine, an e-newsletter distributed by Western Farm Press and sponsored online by Chemtura AgroSolutions.

“We were very nervous early in the year from all the rain at bloom, and had an extremely difficult time getting control of the vines after bloom because of all the water in the soil. But, thanks to the excellent weather we’ve had since mid-June — daytime temperatures in the high 70s to mid-80s and nights cooling to the mid- to low 50s, and no heat spikes — we’ve been able to get the vines back in balance. They’re motoring right along; in fact, one of my friends who has a modest size but high-end winery, is very enthusiastic about the whites because of the summer weather. If it stays this way, the quality of our grapes will be very, very good again, like last year.”

Crop loads at the end of August reflect the wide variation in shatter this year, which ranged from moderate to significant, due to adverse weather during bloom, Verhey notes.

“If your vines went through bloom during the really cold rainstorms in late May and early June, you might have really been nailed.”

You can read more about what Verhey had to say about their 2011 grape crops by visiting back issues of GrapeLine at http://subscribe.westernfarmpress.com/subscribe.cfm?tc=NNWEB where you can also subscribe to future, exclusive in depth issues. Mailed twice monthly through September, the e-newsletter is sponsored by Chemtura AgroSolutions.