After an early, devastating freeze last November, a cool June which stifled bud development and a cooler than normal summer, wine grapes are finally starting to reach maturity. Even a few days earlier than in 2010, which was also, another cool vintage.
This still puts harvest about 10 days behind “normal,” but has caught up quite a bit from early spring when the vines were three weeks behind. If this current weather pattern keeps up through September and October, all should be well.
A lot of grape growers and vintners are particularly pleased with the quality of the fruit. The weather these past two weeks has been perfect, with moderate-to-extra-warm daytime temperatures of up into the 90s, and cool nights have helped push grapes to a desired brix level and optimum physiological maturity. This combination of climate conditions will keep acids at a higher, optimum level, with low pHs, both of which are qualities you want in grapes that will produce excellent quality wine.
First to be ready for crush this week is Sauvignon Blanc. With possibly Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Merlot from Red Mountain next week.
Syrah and even late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon should be ripening in the next 14 to 21 days. The rest of harvest is expected to stretch into early November. Hopefully, harvest will end well before the first frost, to ensure that the vines have enough time to go dormant, and avoid die-back.