The harvest season is special in viticulture, as it marks the first step towards the production of a new vintage, and it is at this time that the fruits of each estate’s labor come to life. From August to October, the grapes are picked from the vine at full maturity. This is the best time of year to visit the wine region, and in November you can taste the first sips of the season.
Harvesting grapes is both an art and a science, and expectations for each year’s wines vary depending on factors such as frosts, heat spikes, drought and, in recent years, fires. We spoke to Nicole Hitchcock, winemaker at Sonoma County’s J Vineyards and wine estateand Michael Eddy, winemaker at Napa Valley’s Louis M. Martini Vineyard, for the inside scoop on what to expect for California’s 2021 vintage. (Spoiler alert: looks good!)
The 2021 grow year has brought little rainfall and lots of heat to California wine country. Historically, some of the best wines have been produced in hot, dry years, so there is a lot of optimism around 2021 wines. Although dry growing seasons present dangers, such as limited access to water and fires, Hitchcock says one of the main benefits is that dry seasons reduce the risk of disease and rot among the grapes.
Eddy agrees: “Dry seasons give winemakers the ability to control the amount of water each vine receives, allowing them to more closely manage the flavor, mouthfeel and aromatic compounds of grapes and grapes. resulting wine. This year’s warm growing season also means that the grapes will have ample time to develop until fall and can be picked at optimum ripeness. Both Eddy and Hitchcock say the fruit that has grown so far in Napa and Sonoma looks fabulous, which is really exciting for wine lovers.
Another reason why harvest season is the best time to visit wine country: the seasonal celebrations. Festivities paying homage to the land and the weather to produce another successful vintage became popular decades ago, and the tradition has spread around the world.
Locally, Carruth Cellars hosts a harvest and crush event at their new tasting room in Oceanside to show customers what an urban vineyard is all about, and you can purchase some of their limited-edition, award-winning wines at their annual Reserve sale occurred on Saturday, November 6.
In Temecula, you can become a member of Doffo Winery Barrel Club and have the chance to assemble your own wine barrel and, after a while, take your bottles home. In Paso Robles, Justin Vineyard hosts a five-course artisanal dinner with sommelier-selected wine pairings, and Chronic cellars invites customers to taste their new products and to taste the wines directly from the barrel.
The harvest gives wineries the opportunity to celebrate their hard work and accomplishments and share their new wines with guests from home and abroad. The energy, excitement and optimism are palpable, and a trip to wine country this fall to experience it for yourself is not to be missed.
Nia Ruth is a psychologist by day and spends her free time writing about wine, but most often sipping it. She has just launched her own wine club offering wines in small quantities. His blog is niaruth.com.