Winemakers and grape growers are getting ready for a much needed vacation as the final grapes are picked this week throughout Napa and Sonoma.
The Napa Valley Vintners, who represents over 400 wineries in the region, calls the 2013 vintage “early, even and excellent.” Early bud break and a warm summer meant that white grapes were being picked beginning August 1st — "the earliest in recent history," according to the Vintners. Some feared that the harvest would be too early — that sugars would accumulate before tannins and phenolics had time to develop.
But then things cooled down in September and October, allowing thick-skinned red grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon to reach ideal maturity before frost or rain set in. “When all is said and done, this year’s harvest is shaping up to be another great vintage for Sonoma County,” says Karissa Kruse, President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers.
Napa winemaker Paul Colantuoni of Rocca Family Vineyards agrees: “In a nutshell, this vintage has given us the extraordinary gift of enabling us to pick exactly what we wanted, when we wanted, at perfect ripeness and ideal hang time.”
It’s also, not incidentally, a really great time to visit wine country as tourists return to Texas and grapes make their important transition from fruit to wine. The vines are preparing for dormancy, shedding their leaves — and in the process bathing swaths of hillsides with autumn colors, even as daytime temps continue to push 80 degrees.