As many Sonoma County vineyards entered veraison in mid-July, wine grape growers continued to benefit from this season’s favorable weather.
“The crop is coming along nicely,” says Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. “So far this month, and for nearly all of June, we’ve had pretty ideal weather conditions. We have 200 more heat units at this point than in 2011, and that’s pushed crop development about 10 to 14 days ahead of last year. Everything is looking good.”
Cluster counts are normal and berry sizing is much more uniform than in the last two seasons.
“It’s the kind of crop growers planned for at pruning,” Frey says. “Yield prospects look good, about average or a little above for most varieties.”
Growers have seen little powdery mildew this year and few insect pests, such as leafhoppers and mites. “We’ve had some IPM meetings and there hasn’t been much bad happening in the vineyards to talk about,” he says.
Frey rates Pinot Noir as the best-looking variety, but says Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel look good, too. “The Chardonnay crop is probably the most variable and may be a little on the lighter side.”
He doubts anything other than the sparkling wine types will be ready to pick much before Labor Day. However, that should give growers much more time to get their grapes off than the last two years when late harvests exposed the crop to damaging fall rains.
“If the season is normal from here on out and we can avoid any rain during harvest, it should be a good year,” Frey says.
Grape prices have strengthened across the board, compared to the past few years.
“This year there’s actually demand for the grapes,” Frey says. “Just about anyone who has wanted to sell grapes this year has had offers.”