Harvest is getting underway in Sonoma and Napa with a little more optimism than was evident earlier.

“We are just getting started,” says Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission in Santa Rosa, Calif. “A lot of sparkling is going out this week, and there is some Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay as well.

In general yields have been below last year, but some early reports indicate the yields are better than estimates, according to Frey. “Cluster weights are coming in better than estimated, even though cluster counts are down,” he says. “Some vineyards — yet to be harvested — look at least as good as last year. So it is hard to guess where we will come out when harvest is finally done. We may beat my earlier 2008 180,000-ton estimate, but we will still be below last year’s 198,000 tons.”

“Weather has been about perfect after getting through the spring,” Frey says. “Pest pressures have been low all year; no major problems.”