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Serving: East

Wine grape crush under way

Excellent quality, with average or below average yields, seems to sum it up for wine grapes this year. Even though this year’s crop doesn’t appear to be a barn burner in terms of yield, it’s not all that bad either. The buzz as the season winds down is all about vintage.

“Berry size is smaller than normal, so that will cut our yield somewhat, but the quality should be excellent,” says Matt Hatcher, owner of Hatcher Winery at Murphys, Calif. “I’m leaving fruit on the vine for a lot longer this year because we’re about two weeks earlier than normal. Most of the vineyards in this area are going through verasion now.”

Weather has been almost idyllic, he says. “We’ve had a lot of days in the mid-90s or cooler, with very few heat spikes. That, in combination with very little pest or disease pressure, should also translate into a very good vintage.”

In Sonoma, the consensus is fairly similar. “There’s not much to report,” says Rhonda Smith, Sonoma County UCCE farm advisor. “The crop appears to be about average size. Harvest for sparkling wine grapes began about two weeks ago in Carneros and is still continuing. In warmer areas, Sauvignon Blanc varietals are currently being for still wine.”

Pest and disease pressure remain relatively quiet across the state.

“We’ve seen moderate to high mildew pressure, but growers have kept it under control,” Smith says. “Botrytis started to show up in some Chardonnay about two weeks ago, but is being held in place with increased leaf removal.”

It’s mostly a race to prepare for harvest at this point. “Grapes are ripening at a pretty fast rate,” Smith says.

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