California's winegrowers are predicting 'exceptional' quality in a vintage that is slightly smaller than average.
The first winter rains for several years brought some relief to the vines, while the growing season was generally moderate in temperature and free of heat spikes.
'2016 was early, small and delicious,' said Cathy Corison, famed for her restrained style of Napa Cabernets. ‘The entire ripening season enjoyed cooler than average daytime highs and cold nights – perfect for inky, complex wines.'
Currently, the crush is expected to be somewhere around 3.9m tonnes – well below the record 2013 harvest, of 4.24m tonnes, but only just below average for the last few years.
The lack of extreme heat helped prevent raisining of the grapes, even in the Central Valley, with Adam Metler, director of winemaking at David Michael Winery in Lodi, describing his Zinfandel harvest as 'probably the cleanest Zinfandel crop I have seen in some time.'
Cool nights in the Southern Valley Pinot heartlands of Santa Barbara, meanwhile, seem to have suited the grape.
'[Conditions] allowed the medium-sized crop to mature perfectly – small berries in pristine condition,' said Frank Ostini, owner/winemaker of Hitching Post Wines. 'We are excited to be making some of our best-ever balanced wines with fine colour and intensity.'