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Harvest 2018 kicked off this morning, Wednesday, August 15, 2018, at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards in Sonoma, California!! The winery marked the occasion with the team from the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance (SVVGA), a non-profit trade association representing more than 100 wineries and 140 grape growers in Sonoma Valley, with a celebratory toast and bell ringing ceremony.

Steven Urberg, Director of Winemaking

The first grapes that arrived this morning were Pinot Noir from the Kiser Vineyard in Sonoma Carneros, managed by Sangiacomo Family Vineyards.  Generally, juice from this vineyard ends up in some of our very best sparkling wines. 

Tomorrow, we will bring in a few small blocks from our Home Ranch on our 335-acre Carneros estate. By the end of the week, we will be in the thick of the sparkling harvest and we expect to have the vast majority of our Pinot Noir grapes for our sparkling wines harvested and in tank by the end of this month.

The pace of ripening this year allowed us to get all of our bottling complete as well as some disgorging, so we are fully prepped and ready for the new season.  The wines pressed today were harvested at 17-18 brix, which is an ideal sugar level for sparkling wine.  The juice will go into bottle in the middle of 2019 and the earliest release wines will be on the market in 2021.”

Gloria Ferrer Director of Winemaking Steven Urberg inspects  a load of Sonoma Carneros Pinot Noir grapes from the Kiser Vineyard, managed by Sangiacomo Family Vineyards,  as they arrive for the first press of the 2018 harvest this morning.

Mike Crumly, VP Production

“After four early harvests in a row, it seems we are now back to normal.  The timing of first pick being near the third week of August has been consistent over the past few decades, and old timers recognize this.  If you are new to the business, and you look back over the past five years, you might be tempted to call the 2018 harvest “late”.

The size of the crop will also exceed what we have seen over the past five years. We hope this 2018 crop will rival the large yields we saw in 2012 and 2013.  All of us vineyard folks estimate yields in different ways and have different opinions, but we all agree that this is going to be a big one! We are in happy anticipation that the defining feature of the 2018 vintage will be high quality grapes and plenty of them.

We had a normal bud-break in March followed by adequate rainfall. When the shoots were small we had a hail storm in April that scared us more than it did damage, and the vines came through it with no ill effects. Bloom began on May 5th. Again, cold inconsistent weather caused some anxiety during this critical flowering period. A normal bloom period lasts about 10 days to two weeks. This year, it took a month. The flowering was erratic.  Within the same block, you could see vines that had not yet flowered, and others that were done with bloom and well into the next stage called fruit set. We may see some uneven ripening as a result. We also have seen some clusters with tiny “shot berries”, but not enough to cause concern. It is the high number of clusters per vine that will bring us a fat harvest in 2018.

Based on the timing of first bloom and first color, we originally predicted a harvest date of August 20th. Once ripening began, the weather warmed up and caused us to pick a few days earlier than forecast. Veraison, the period of ripening, has not been disrupted by any extreme spikes of heat.  The weather is currently ideal.

Well timed, fruitful and uneventful…this could be an ideal harvest.”

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