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Sonoma County Anticipating the Start of Winegrape Harvest


Cooler, Wetter Start to the Year Likely to Result in More Normal Year

(August 8, 2023) – After a record winter and spring, with much-needed rainfall and below-average temperatures, the growing season started slower this year, putting predictions for the start of harvest closer to the “norm.” Vine and grape development are showing about one to two weeks behind a normal year (depending on the appellation and vineyard) and around three weeks behind the last few drought-impacted growing seasons. Accurate predictions for harvest rely heavily on favorable weather during August, with hopes that growth progress will quicken slightly. 

Bloom was met with cool, misty weather, but the vines are looking healthy, and the 2023 crop is shaping up for what should be an average-size year, with expected yields getting back on par with pre-drought sizes. With steadily climbing temperatures during July, veraison has just started in some of the warmer, northern areas of the county, with the rest of the region eagerly awaiting its arrival. 

Alexander Valley 

“The crop yields are generally good, and the vines are looking healthy,” said Tyler Klick, vice president and partner of Redwood Empire Vineyard Management. “We have seen veraison beginning in Alexander Valley with Chardonnay, Malbec, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon.” 

Dry Creek Valley 

“Chardonnay started last week in Dry Creek Valley, Pinot Noir, just south of Healdsburg….the first Cabernet Sauvignon berries began to color just north of Geyserville – less than 1% of the berries in that block,” commented Duff Bevill, founder and partner of Bevill Vineyard Management.

Fountaingrove District 

Steve Heller, owner of Heller Family Vineyards, reports, “We have not yet had veraison which will make this the latest veraison in the last 13 years….when it happens! I project we will not start harvest (Merlot and Malbec) until mid-October, and Cabernet Sauvignon will be picked in late October or early November.”

Russian River Valley 

In the words of Jim Pratt from Cornerstone Certified Vineyard, the growing season can be summarized in three words, “late, late, late.” A great rainy season, mild frost and a cool year led to a long bloom period. Veraison has started in the warmer areas of the region, and predictions are for average yields with exceptional quality. 

Sonoma Valley 

The slow-growing season continues as the area has yet to see signs of veraison. Taylor Serres, owner of Serres Ranch, reports “good rainfall, lots of early growth, and an extended bloom period.” 



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