With Napa’s earliest harvest on record expected to finish up next week, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers held their annual harvest press conference at Cliff Lede Vineyards in Yountville this morning to reflect on the growing season and look ahead.
The vines went through a roller-coaster season with spring heat bringing on an early bud break, but with a cold snap in May, and the ripening was, in fact, trailing behind through midsummer.
“Bud break started very early, about three weeks ahead of normal,” said Matt Reid, Winemaker at Benessere Vineyards and Estate Winery, “and despite some cooler weather that followed in May, the vines never really slowed down.”
“In some of our vineyards, it was the warmest season on record, and that means a lot because of making up for the cooler May,”said PJ Alviso, Director of Estate Viticulture at Duckhorn Wine Company. “The grapes were confused for a little while, and we saw some shadow and some uneven ripening.”
While 2015 yields came in 30%-40% below the high 2012 through 2014 averages, the difference was less pronounced from multi-year averages.
However, the quality of the grape harvest was very high. “We couldn’t be happier with what we brought in,” Said Reid, “really great stuff, my only complaint is that there is too little of it.”
“We’re seeing really nice concentration in our wine and also a lot of freshness from bright fiber acidity,” said Remi Cohen, Vice President and General Manager at Lede Family Wines, “and I think that’s going to make the 2015 wines really ageable.”
Reid agreed. “We’ve got a beautiful acidity to match the bright fruit flavors, and the tannin quality is really fine, so we have red wines that will be well structured, but not at all overpowered – very elegant.”
Though Napa’s water table hasn’t dropped during the drought like other parts of California, grapegrowers are hopefull that El Nino predictions will hold. “We’re getting our vineyards prepared with the proper erosion control and cover crops to set the stage for what will hopefully be a rainy winter,” said Cohen.
By Kim Johannsen