It’s like a teenager in charge of a clutch on a super-revved Ferrari: Harvest on the Central Coast is progressing, but it’s been “stomp on the gas” one minute and “slam on the brakes” the next.

“It’s been a roller coaster,” says Lowell Zelinski, Precision Ag, Inc., at Paso Robles. “The weather has been all over the board. The maturity comes up, then the weather cools down. It’s been very hard to figure out when to harvest. Very confusing.”

Even so, harvest is running about a week to 10 days ahead of schedule, according to Zelinski. “I would say the yields are mixed to average right now. Chardonnay and Syrah seem to be a little off. We haven’t picked much of the reds yet, so it’s still a little early to tell on about them.”

A rain event a couple of weeks earlier was cause for concern, but turned out to be a sleeper, like most of the season has been when it comes to disease. “We thought there might be some bunch rot, but it didn’t materialize,” Zelinski says.

That’s been the consensus in most areas for most of the 2007 season. “Not much going on,” says Doug Gubler, UC plant pathologist. “Pretty nice year to grow grapes.”

The only fly in the ointment has been water. If ever there was a year when soil moisture monitoring made sense, it was 2007, says Zelinski.

“There wasn’t a lot of real trouble, because growers could rely on wells, for the most part. But, the soil profile was dry going into the season so they had to rely on wells more than normal. If they had soil moisture monitoring capability, they were able to schedule irrigations more precisely and take better advantage of the water they had. There are wells out there now that are going dry, and that is not an inexpensive proposition.”