This week marks the craze of the 2014 harvest of wine grapes in Napa, which most people say is a two-month process. Although the harvest process takes much longer. It’s a time of year where winemakers expect to be sleep deprived putting in 21 hour days of blood, sweat, and tears into the winemaking processs.
In fact, harvest time in all areas of the wine world is hectic and filled with many sleepless nights (or weeks!), no time to shave, many heartaches, unplanned problems, and unanticipated costs. And in California, it started back in March or even earlier.
Tanks need to be cleaned. This isn’t easy since tanks are large and call for a specialized kind of cleaning.
Barrels have one small bunghole into which cleansing agents can be placed, but then they have to be rinsed to get every drop of agent out. As you can imagine this is a time-consuming chore.
As you can imagine it’s all hands on deck this time of year at the Spelletich Family Wine Company facility. With loads of duties to get done before we bring in additional fruit.
When grapes are harvested this time of year, they must be transported to where they are either pressed or crushed. Then the resulting juice must be placed in tanks to be fermented. Those tanks must be empty.
Harvest is in full swing in America’s premier wine region as we continue to shift our focus from recovery efforts related to last month’s earthquake. Our Chardonnay and red varieties, like Pinot Noir, Merlot and Malbec, are starting to hit crush pads throughout the valley. Picking of Cabernet Sauvignon, the region’s most widely planted variety, will begin soon.
In spite of one of the driest winters on record, the 2014 harvest is expected to produce another high quality vintage. Spring rains and consistent weather throughout the growing season will likely yield an average to above-average crop of evenly ripened fruit.
Although a handful of the more than 120 wineries that were impacted by the August 24 quake are still assessing damage and continuing their recovery efforts, 99% of Napa Valley’s wineries have returned to their core business of producing and selling wine. Even some of the most badly damaged wineries in the town of Napa and surrounding areas have reopened to the public or have set up temporary harvest facilitiers to turn the rapidly ripening grapes into wine.
From Carneros to Calistoga, hillside to valley floor, the bustle of harvest is escalating in the Napa Valley. Thanks to a few warm days early in the week, activity has really ramped up as we begin the month of September. Most of the valley’s Chardonnay is now in, a week to 10 days ahead of normal. Pinot Noir and other lighter reds are being picked with some very early reports of Cabernet Sauvignon being harvested in a select few locations.
Weather for the week ahead looks moderately warm during the day, with cooling fog predicted for the overnights – the perfect recipe for ripening grapes in the Napa Valley. Early reports indicate a moderate yield for the 2014 crop. The focus on 2014 will be Quality over Quanitity.
We are thrilled with the quality of fruit we have brought in so far. Seeing our glistening chardonnay grapes brought a smile to our esteemed winemaker Barb’s face. It will just be a few short years before you get to taste the fruit of our 2014 harvests labor. Stay tuned for updates from Spelletich Family Wine Co.