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Harvest Update: Monterey County Wine Growers and Makers Anticipate Exceptional Quality in 2023 Vintage 


Monterey, CA – October 2, 2023 – The Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association is excited to announce that the 2023 Monterey County wine grape harvest is in full swing, and the quality is exceptional. The harvest for sparkling wines began in the early morning hours of August 29th, while the harvest for still wines began fully in the last few days of September. “Cooler weather conditions contributed to delayed ripening, resulting in our harvest being approximately 3 weeks later than a typical year,” shared Kim Stemler, Executive Director. “This year, quite a few vineyards will be harvesting through Thanksgiving, which is quite unusual.”


“The delay in ripening allows for extended ‘hang time,’ a crucial factor in developing exceptional grape quality. This year, we expect lower sugar and alcohol levels due to a compressed harvesting window of 30 days, compared to the typical 60 days, and the crop size remains average,” shared Jason Smith, President/CEO of Valley Farm Management. He adds, “Monterey County is ideally positioned to deliver high-quality fruit this vintage, even as other regions struggle with grape ripening issues. In a remarkable twist of nature, our region will harvest Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir simultaneously.” Pinot Noir is an early-ripening grape variety and is generally among the first grapes picked each year. Cabernet Sauvignon is a late variety and generally among the last harvested. This compression creates a logistical issue in wineries – limited tank space and long working hours. 

Despite a late bud break and a mild summer, the region is witnessing a slow but consistent ripening process.  “The next few weeks’ weather forecast looks great for the grapes. The pH and Brix (sugar levels) are aligned, and as long as we don’t get significant rain and the warm weather continues, we’re looking at an exceptional harvest,” shared Matt Shea of Bernardus Winery. 

Greg Freeman, the Winemaker at Foley Family Wines’ Chalone Vineyard, expresses his excitement, stating, “Although optimal ripeness was achieved just over three weeks later than in 2022, it seems that the quality is poised to surpass any vintage in the last decade. We are enthusiastic about crafting these wines and presenting them at our new Tasting Room in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea, set to open in December 2023!”


To celebrate harvest, we invite guests to experience the vineyard-based wineries of the Salinas Valley in the Monterey Wine Trail Harvest Passport. For only $45, guests enjoy four tasting experiences while seated amidst picturesque vineyards at their choice of eight vineyard-based wineries throughout October.  You also receive 10% off bottle and case sales. More information is available at MontereyWines.org.


The Monterey County wine region boasts over 43,000 acres of wine grapes and, thanks to the region’s unique microclimates, cultivates over 50 different varietals of wine grapes. Monterey County’s wine region includes 10 federally designated grape-growing regions with specific geographic or climatic features influencing grape growth and wine characteristics called American Viticultural Areas or AVAs. The AVAs in Monterey County are Arroyo Seco, Carmel Valley, Chalone, Gabilan Mountains, Hames Valley, Monterey, San Antonio Valley, San Bernabe, San Lucas, and Santa Lucia Highlands.


Bringing together the talents and resources of its winery and grower members, partners, and the community, the MCVGA promotes and supports their leadership in the art, science, and business of wine – from vineyard to table. Founded in 1974, the Association is a non-profit organization representing over 65 vintners and growers in Monterey County, California. Learn more at MontereyWines.org.



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