Home Industry News Releases 2023 Predicted to Be the Vintage of a Lifetime in Napa Valley

2023 Predicted to Be the Vintage of a Lifetime in Napa Valley

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Growers and winemakers’ patience was rewarded with an exceptional, age-worthy vintage

12/4/2023 – Saint Helena, CA – Coming off the heels of the longest Napa Valley growing season in a decade, vintners are glowing with expectancy of the truly noteworthy 2023 vintage. Some have proposed it to be one of the greats while others claim it might be the vintage of a lifetime.

“Every century, every place has its legendary vintages. I have no doubt that 2023 will go down as one of the most phenomenal vintages ever in Napa Valley. Every vintner I’ve talked to about 2023 has been nothing short of ecstatic,” said Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible and Napa Valley resident in a recent video about the 2023 harvest.

Winemakers describe the wines as having freshness, purity and elegance overall with deep colored red wines and a full range of flavors from sites across the valley.

Higher-than-average rainfall kicked off the 2023 growing season, and grape growers reported full soil profiles with plenty of moisture, which led to a successful bloom. Due to cooler spring weather, the growing season began 10-14 days behind the 2022 season.

“The remainder of the growing season was a mild one. Cooler growing conditions meant extended hang time for grapes,” said Brittany Pederson, director of viticulture for Renteria Vineyard Management. “Knowing we’d likely harvest into November, it was our job to ripen the fruit and keep it protected long enough to hang through the extended time frame.”

Relatively cool weather in tandem with an abundance of sunshine allowed grape skins to ripen slowly and develop maximal dark red color components for red wines.  With 2023’s long growing season, full ripeness of grape skins and seeds provided the building blocks for the red wines’ tannic backbone.

“Ripe, rich tannins are the wine’s source of resilience and provide the elements for a long-lived wine.  The deep red color is a signal of a stand-out vintage, especially with Cabernet,” said Jim Duane, Winemaker at Seavey Vineyard.

Aside from Sauvignon Blanc, which was harvested as early as Labor Day weekend, most varieties ripened in October. This simultaneous ripening meant grape growers and wineries coordinated picks based on tank space in the cellar, and communication among partnerships was key. As always, everyone remained nimble, taking the challenges in stride.

“Every harvest we ‘add to our belts’, so to speak, as each one delivers a new experience and learning lesson. 2023 was no exception,” said Pederson.

With consistent, mild weather throughout the season, above-average crop yields, and extended hang time, grape growers and winemakers are reporting an exceptional, high-quality, memorable vintage in 2023.

A mild growing season has the Napa Valley agricultural community excited about the 2023 vintage: 

  • Winter and spring rains led to full reservoirs and healthy, saturated soils, ideal conditions as grape growers headed into bud break
  • The mild, warm summer weather (72-75 degrees F) supported healthy canopy growth through bloom and set
  • Though vineyards faced mildew pressure, clusters remained loose for good air flow, berries were small with concentrated flavors and the weather remained consistent
  • Harvest kicked off around Labor Day weekend (September 2-4, 2023) for white wine grapes; Cabernet Sauvignon harvest started the end of September / early-October; all picks wrapped up by mid-November
  • Grape growers and winemakers relished the long harvest season, which provided varieties extended hang time to develop flavors true to their unique locations

LEARN MORE ABOUT NAPA VALLEY’S HARVEST

SOMM TV 2023 NAPA VALLEY VINTAGE REPORT

Watch the 2023 Napa Valley Vintage Report with winemakers as they get together to recap the harvest season and talk about the 2023 vintage. Airs Tuesday, December 5, 2023 on SOMM TV.

2023 HARVEST PRESS CONFERENCE: A recap of the season

Industry insiders joined together to discuss the 2023 growing season, timely topics related to Napa Valley agriculture and harvest. View the 2023 vintage recap on the Napa Valley Grapegrowers YouTube page.

About Napa Valley Vintners

The Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit trade association has been cultivating excellence since 1944 by inspiring its nearly 550 members to consistently produce wines of the highest quality, provide environmental leadership and care for the extraordinary place they call home. Since 1981, the NVV has invested more than $230 million in its community to provide equitable access to healthcare and opportunity for advancement in children’s education. NVV is dedicated to improving diversity and championing inclusivity in its community and in the wine industry. Learn more at napavintners.com.

About the Napa Valley Grapegrowers

For nearly 50 years, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, has played a vital role in strengthening Napa Valley’s reputation as a world-class viticultural region. Its mission is to cultivate viticultural excellence and environmental stewardship for the Napa Valley, and it represents 685 Napa County grape growers and associated businesses. For more information, visit Napa Valley Grapegrowers and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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