Mild autumn weather brings ideal conditions for perfect ripening of red varieties
10/22/2019 – Napa, CA – The Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) and Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) are pleased to share that the 2019 harvest is progressing smoothly, producing exceptional fruit throughout Napa Valley. Harvest began in mid-August with sparkling wine producers across Napa Valley bringing in Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. As early autumn brings on mild weather, the fast-paced action in the vineyard continues with dedicated crews harvesting Cabernet Sauvignon.
Notes from the Vineyard from the Napa Valley Grapegrowers
The 2019 growing season began with heavy rains in March and April, which cultivated robust cover crops that organically enriched the soil with an abundance of nutrients. The rain in April also created a bit of shatter in Chardonnay clusters during bloom, but didn’t significantly reduce crop size, and most growers referred to it as “nature’s way of thinning.”
Fruit set was on course during the spring for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. With the exception of a brief heat spike in June, summer weather was moderate and veraison was even.
Harvest began in mid-August with a brief heat spike that growers, vineyard managers and their crews expertly handled. Two days of light rain in mid-September prompted some growers to trim their canopies to increase air flow around ripening fruit. As most growers are now picking Cabernet Sauvignon, harvest continues at a robust pace under mild autumn conditions.
“The beginning of the 2019 growing season was defined by copious rainfall and late soil moisture. The long, mild summer saw very few extreme heat events, and few extended foggy mornings which set the stage for excellent quality wines,” said Paul Goldberg, President of Bettinelli Vineyards and President of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers. “The mild finish to the season, which is ideal for grape growers and winemakers alike, has helped to preserve freshness and finesse in the fruit and will surely contribute to what will shape up to be a memorable vintage.”
The relatively mild growing season produced a bountiful crop.
“It was another vintage where the grower was in the driver’s seat,” added Jon Ruel, CEO of Trefethen Family Vineyards. “We had the luxury of thinning block by block and vine by vine to create the best grapes we can.”
Notes from the Winery from the Napa Valley Vintners
Precision in winemaking starts in the vineyard, crossing into the cellar as grapes are meticulously sorted, tiny grape by tiny grape, ensuring that only the finest fruit makes the cut. Grapes become juice, juice and skins become the canvas upon which coveted wines from Napa Valley are crafted.
At this point in the winemaking process, most whites have gone through the winemaker’s desired fermentation process and are happily tucked away for the winter. Some Chardonnays are undergoing a second, malolactic fermentation, often in oak. Reds that have come across the crush pad and into tanks for primary fermentation are typically going through punch downs or pump overs, where the skins of the grapes are mixed back in with the juice, creating additional color, flavors and tannins.
As winemaking becomes centered in the cellar, attention to the vast array of details that go into fine winemaking come into play: How long is a fermentation? At what temperature? What type of yeast is used? Stainless steel or oak? If oak, how long and what type? “This is the ‘painter’s’ part,” says John Skupny, winemaker and proprietor at Lang & Reed Wine Company of winemaking excellence. “You play with often subtle nuances to get different shades, different colors, drawing out a particular vintage from a particular spot of earth.”
Winemakers are enthusiastic about cultivating the 2019 vintage, with all the tools in their winemaking toolbox. “The quality of the fruit that has come into our cellars has been truly exceptional, with deeper color than anticipated, ample texture with bright acidity, and clean fermentations,” noted Tom Farella, of Farella Vineyard. “Mother Nature has thrown us some interesting little bumps along the way, but the 2019 is coming in with a nice soft landing.”
Follow the 2019 Napa Valley Harvest
Visit harvestnapa.com for the Napa Valley Vintners’ harvest Field Notes, social media, winemaking videos and more.
About the Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG)
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 more than 43 years. Its mission is to preserve and promote Napa Valley’s world-class vineyards. NVG represents 725 Napa County grapegrowers and associated businesses. For more information, visit www.napagrowers.org.
About the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV)
The Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit trade associate has been cultivating excellence since 1944 by inspiring its 550 members to consistently produce wines of the highest quality, to provide environmental leadership and to care for the extraordinary place they call home. In 2019 the NVV is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Learn more at napavintners.com.