Recent warm weather helping grapes transition to optimal ripeness
7/29/2016 – Napa, CA – The Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) and Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) announced today the first wine grapes of the 2016 Napa Valley vintage have made their way from the vineyard to the crush pad for what looks to be another early but high-quality harvest in America’s premier wine region.
Local grapegrowers and vintners should begin picking in earnest, including aromatic white wine grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, in the next week to 10 days. Recent warm temperatures are helping the grapes transition from veraison to full ripeness. The beginning of this year’s harvest is somewhat earlier than average, but similar to first picking dates of the past three years.
NOTES FROM THE VINEYARD
An early bud break followed by warm weather and spring rains brought a rapid start to this year’s near perfect growing season in Napa Valley. Garrett Buckland with Premiere Viticultural Services and president of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, shared his excitement explaining, “The ripening has gone well and it’s been a wonderful season with beautiful weather from bloom, to berry set, to hard seed, through veraison.”
With regards to yield, grapegrowers have reported that the average number of berries per cluster is higher than the historical average in some blocks, but overall, Buckland observed, “Yield looks good to me. This year is expected to be close to average with Cabernet Sauvignon slightly below the normal average. However, while yield is important, it is not the only factor in wine quality. We are anticipating tremendous quality this year.”
Grapegrowers are busy finishing canopy work, continuing to thin fruit as needed and keeping a close eye on soil moisture as they wrap up key vineyard activities before settling in for a busy couple of months ahead. Full-on harvest is not expected to begin until the third week of August but may come earlier depending on heat and elevated temperatures.
Overall, Napa Valley grapegrowers couldn’t be more pleased with this year’s model conditions and are looking forward to another spectacular vintage for 2016. “We are very fortunate,” said Buckland, “for the most part, every year is an awesome year for Napa Valley.”
NOTES FROM THE CELLAR
Meanwhile, throughout the Napa Valley, winemakers are gearing up for the busiest time of the year. According to Michael Honig, president of Honig Vineyard & Winery and vice chair of the NVV Board of Directors, “For winemakers, harvest is our championship season. It’s the culmination of 12 months of rigorous work and concentrated effort to make the best wines possible.”
As the grapes are ripening in the vineyard, Honig said vintners are busy in their cellars bottling recent vintages and making tank and barrel space ready for the wines that will result from this year’s crop. “It’s the calm before the storm,” commented Honig. “Vintners are getting their wineries in tip-top shape, cleaning and checking equipment to ensure we’re ready. Vacations and time off are behind us and we’re rested and ready for the 24/7 nature of the months ahead.”
Winemakers are also out walking the vineyards with their grapegrower partners, participating in the process of deciding the optimal time to pick their grapes. “We’re excited for the promise of a fifth consecutive high quality harvest. Looks like it’s going to be another winning season in the Napa Valley,” said Honig.
FOLLOW THE 2016 NAPA VALLEY HARVEST
To follow the 2016 Napa Valley harvest as it unfolds, go to napavintners.com/harvest for continuous social media coverage direct from Napa Valley’s vintners. The site also includes photos from some of the first days of the 2016 harvest, along with videos, recipes and educational games to help wine lovers from around the world feel a part of the excitement of this once-a-year event.
In October, NVG will host its 10th annual harvest press conference with a panel of industry experts discussing the important details of this year’s growing season. To receive an invitation to watch the press conference live, contact [email protected].
About the Napa Valley Grapegrowers
The mission of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers is to preserve and promote Napa Valley’s world class vineyards. NVG represents over 690 Napa County grapegrowers and associated businesses. For more information, visit napagrowers.org.
About the Napa Valley Vintners
The Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit trade association has been cultivating excellence since 1944 by inspiring its 525 winery members to consistently produce wines of the highest quality, to provide environmental leadership and to care for the extraordinary place they call home. Learn more at napavintners.com.