Grapes for Sparkling Wines Picked this Week in Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley and Sonoma Valley
TA ROSA, Calif. (August 6, 2020) – Following weeks of steady daytime heat and cool evenings, Sonoma County grapes are ripening evenly, and some are ready to be picked, kicking off the 2020 winegrape harvest in Sonoma County. The date comes 10 days earlier than it did in 2019, a relatively cooler, wetter year.
The earliest grapes harvested were picked on Monday night in Dry Creek Valley, when Dutcher Crossing Winery’s team picked 4.4 tons of Chardonnay to be used in their estate sparkling wine, a tradition started in 2016. “The team was super excited to get the 2020 vintage started, and what better way to celebrate the harvest season than with Chardonnay for our sparkling wine,” said Nick Briggs, Dutcher Crossing’s Winemaker. “While we were earlier this year by over a week due to light crop load yields, the quality is exceptional!”
Lower crop yields this season are a theme echoed by winegrowers around Sonoma County. While there were some reports of “shatter” associated with April frost, the main cause for lower yields is related to the cyclical nature of the vines, which have experienced several above-average vintages, including the largest on record in 2018. Many growers call this phenomenon of lower grape yields following several larger vintages “right-sizing.”
Among other reports of grape harvesting in Sonoma County, MacMurray Ranch in Russian River Valley, picked 20 tons of Pinot Noir for the J Vineyards brand on Wednesday evening.
Sasaki Vineyards in Schellville, one of the earliest to pick last year, brought in Pinot Noir for the Gloria Ferrer sparkling wines early Thursday morning. The Sasakis have been growing Pinot Noir for Gloria Ferrer for 19 years.
In Sonoma Valley, vintners, growers and members of the community have gathered in recent years at the Mission San Francisco Solano on the Sonoma Plaza to officially ring the harvest bell to signal the beginning of the harvest season in Sonoma Valley. This year, in observance of social distancing, Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Association has asked winegrowers, winery staff and locals to celebrate the beginning of harvest by creating their own “harvest bells” videos and post them to social media using the hashtag #SonomaValleyHarvest.
“Harvest is the most exciting time of year for the thousands here in Sonoma County who are connected to wine and ag. After months of care and anticipation, the wait is over and the action is picking up in vineyards and wineries,” said Karissa Kruse, president of Sonoma County Winegrowers. She added, “Reports from winegrowers indicate a well-balanced and quality crop, with even ripening through veraison. As always we are looking forward to getting our fruit off the vine, and enjoying the 2020 vintage.”