San Joaquin Valley grape grower Sohan Samran’s 700 acres of wine grapes continue to fall behind schedule — after being delayed by unusually cool weather in the spring, below normal temperatures at harvest has hampered picking schedules.
“Normally, we’d be about 70 percent to 80 percent finished with our harvest by now and on pace to finish within two or three weeks,” he says. “But the weather has put us farther behind— three or four days of clouds and really cool temperatures shut the vines down and have prevented the grapes from reaching maturity.”
Samran, who owns Bapu Farming Company at Madera, Calif., started October with only about 60 percent of his grapes harvested. He had completed picking his White Zinfandel and French Colombard grapes, and was just beginning to harvest Ruby Reds. When they’re done, he’ll finish with the Cabernet Sauvignons.
Although yields of his White Zinfandel this year were average, production of French Colombard was down about 10 percent, he reports.
Samran’s main concern is the increasing threat to profits should the harvest extend into late October and early November, with shorter days and greater risk of dew and fog.
A little rain fell on his vines at the start of this month, but so far they’ve been spared the fungus problems caused by the heavy rains last October, when Samran lost about 20 percent of the grapes in one block to fungal disease. In addition to losing yields, he was also penalized with a quality-discount when he sold the grapes.
“It was a double whammy,” he says. “Those losses added up fast.”
Despite his weather concerns, Samran remains hopeful for a successful harvest.
“The weather has been very challenging all year long,” he says. “It’s been similar to 2005. But, when all was said and done, that year turned out to be a pretty profitable one for us. This year’s not over yet, and things could turn out just fine — all we need are enough dry, sunny days.”