An Exceptional Growing Season Makes for a Potential Landmark Vintage
Napa, CA (August 14, 2018) – The 2018 Napa Valley harvest is underway throughout the region according to the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, with sparkling wine and white varieties leading the way to the presses. 2018’s picture-perfect growing season bodes well for a landmark harvest.
Chardonnay awaiting harvest in the Wild Horse Valley AVA. Photo credit: Sarah Anne Risk
“It’s an exciting time of the year! We’re expecting fantastic fruit character expression from these grapes being harvested,” said Patrick Riggs, NVG member and viticulturist at Domaine Chandon, whose first pick is Tuesday night at their estate chardonnay vineyard in Yountville.
The 2018 growing season started after the February rains, which were a good omen to the seven months of grapegrowing that followed. With full reservoirs, a first in many years; high moisture levels in the nutrient-rich soils; and days of sunshine, bud break took place. Mild spring weather made for an extended bloom and weeks later at set, the conditions were perfect – more sunshine, mild temperatures, and no winds. Clusters saw little shatter, making for uniform set. The fruit continued to ripen during the summer months and kept vineyard professionals busy managing canopy growth. From June to early August, temperatures were steady and warm, between 85 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with no heat spikes, creating the most ideal conditions for the final stretch. Veraison has continued over an extended period, allowing for balanced fruit development. Weather permitting, growers plan for a long, steady harvest going well into October when thicker-skin grapes like cabernet sauvignon will be picked.
“Our first pick will be in about two weeks, which means we are getting everything in order – servicing tractors and other equipment, washing bins, and reviewing safety guidelines, while keeping a close eye on the grapes still on the vine,” noted Sam Kaplan, NVG member and vineyard manager and winemaker at Arkenstone.
At the start of harvest, many in the Napa Valley grapegrowing community gather at various vineyards for the blessing of the grapes, a longstanding tradition dating back to agrarian times, that gives thanks for the bountiful crop. The ceremony draws together the professionals who will spend early mornings and late evening working together in the vineyard to bring in the fruit to the crush pad.
The Napa Valley community has much to be thankful for with the 2018 harvest, as it marks one growing season after the October 2017 North Bay complex wildfires. Though 95% of the grapes were in at the start of fires, some vines were exposed to high heat. While in their winter dormancy, these vines self-repaired and collected the needed nutrition to make for one of the best growing seasons to date. Complete vine recovery was made, and grapevines proved their resilience.
The 2018 harvest is already a celebratory one as the first grapes coming in are of exceptional quality, which is sure to make for a landmark Napa Valley vintage.
To learn more about the exceptional 2018 growing season, attend the NVG 2018 Harvest Press Conference via Livestream in September. More details to follow.
About Napa Valley Grapegrowers
NVG is a non-profit trade organization that has played a vital role in strengthening Napa Valley’s reputation as a world-class viticultural region for 42 years. Its mission is to preserve and promote Napa Valley’s world-class vineyards. NVG represents 725 Napa County grapegrowers and associated businesses.