It started out fast and furious and ahead of schedule, but the cool snap earlier in September slowed harvest somewhat.
“Things are finally picking up,” says Jason Smith of Paraiso Vineyards in Soledad. “We did have a half inch of rain last Saturday but it looks as though it didn’t hurt us too much. There were some small outbreaks of botrytis but nothing alarming. The weather has been very nice after two weeks of cold and ripening is again moving along nicely. We are finally picking Pinot Noir and have started Chardonnay also. There is still quite a bit of Merlot and Cabernet that we’ll pick mid to late October.”
As harvest moves forward, yields are trending somewhat down compared to normal, but most growers are reporting excellent vintage.
“To this point, Pinot is short and getting shorter,” Smith says. “Chardonnay is short and holding at 15 to 20 percent of normal. We have picked very little of either, but that is what our first indications are.”
In the Templeton area, growers are also reporting slightly reduced yields.
“I think it has a lot to do with the extremely cold weather we experienced in January,” says Vic Roberts, owner of Victor Hugo Winery in Templeton. “Even though the vines were dormant, I think the buds that eventually developed were still somewhat affected by the extreme cold.”
Even though cluster counts early in the season were foretelling good yields, that doesn’t appear to be holding at harvest, according to Roberts.
“There just aren’t as many berries in the clusters as we expected,” he says. “However, the good news is the quality appears to be phenomenal.”
Other than slightly lower yields across much of the board, there don’t appear to be any disasters or other nasty problems lying in wait.
“There are no real surprises, other than a month ago I said we would be done by Oct. 1, and we are just getting started on Oct. 1,” Smith says.” I have yet to find a way to control any woman in my life much less Mother Nature herself!”