Red grape harvest has been early throughout the wine growing regions. “Napa Valley Zinfandel and Merlot were picked in August this year,” says Bitter. “We’re seeing red wine grapes with brix levels that are very high for this time of year both in Lodi and the coastal areas – exceeding 25-26 brix already. Grapes that normally wouldn’t be harvested until the end of September through mid to late October are currently fighting for schedule at the winery. It’s definitely an earlier brix, even in the white wine grapes.”
Overall, quality appears to be good. Berry size is not big, but as long as growers can get the crop harvested on a timely basis and the wineries can handle flow, the ’08 vintage will be a good one, although yields will suffer somewhat.
“Yields are down at this point at least, likely more than 10 percent,” says Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission in Santa Rosa, Calif.
“I would guess we are at least 25 percent complete with harvest,” he says. “The whites in Dry Creek, Alexander Valley, and Knights Valley are mostly picked. Pinot Noir for still wine is being harvested. Reds are ready. It is just a matter of tank space at wineries if growers are able to pick. The cool weather and fog provided a little time to take a deep breath, but the harvest will be compressed. Growers are putting in lots of hours.”