Vintners in the Napa Valley are ‘extremely optimistic’ about the 2018 harvest after an extended period of cool nights and warm days.
This weather has preserved acidity and developed flavour complexity, making it an ‘exciting year so far’, according to reports from the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) which represents 550 wineries.
Paul Goldberg, director of operations at Bettinelli Vineyards and president of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers, said: ‘This growing season has been marked by a steadiness that has led to great uniformity throughout the vineyards and exceptional fruit quality.’
After ‘abundant’ rain in February, the NVV reported that the Californian valley was ‘a sea of bright, strong growth’, with the vines flowering uniformly, paving the way for even cluster development.
‘A very even bloom was followed by a rapid veraison this year and, to date, our ripening period has been void of extreme heat which will allow for some extended hang time and great phenolic maturity in the fruit,’ Goldberg added.
The first picks of 2018 occurred in mid-August, about a week or so later than 2017. These were primarily for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for sparkling wine. Other white varieties, and those for still wines, began coming off the vines in late August.
As growers enter October, activities will speed up as most of the red varieties ripen and begin to come in.
Andy Erickson, a board member of the NVV and winemaker for Favia who works in multiple nested appellations throughout the Napa Valley, said that after a month of picking white varieties, reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon were just starting to come in and that the recent cool weather had been extremely beneficial. ‘The first reds that we’re seeing – the colour, the aromatics, the acidity – it’s all there,’ he said.
He added that he was delighted about the potential for even further development of fruit still on the vine. ‘Now that it’s officially fall, that’s when you get some really interesting late-season flavours.”
Erickson and several other members of the NVV have also reported strong yields, leading to vintners overall being extremely optimistic about the 2018 harvest after a very balanced growing season.