Sparkling wine harvest begins in Napa

Harvest 2013 has officially begun in Napa Valley with the picking of grapes for sparkling wines.

Napa sparkling wine grapes ready for harvest

Napa sparkling wine grapes ready for harvest (Image credit: Francois Bugue)

The Napa Valley Vintners trade association (NVV) reports that this year’s harvest is roughly a week to ten days earlier than in 2012, with Mumm Napa pulling in some of the first grapes of the season.

“The 2013 growing season has been a very good year for all of our grape growers,” said Ludovic Dervin, winemaker for Mumm Napa, who began picking on 1 August.

Other top sparkling wine producers such as Domaine Chandon and Schramsberg are expected to follow suit in the next one to two weeks. Next up for picking will be various white grapes in the valley followed by lighter reds such as Pinot Noir and earlier ripening Bordeaux varietals. The Cabernet Sauvignon harvest will likely last into late October or early November, especially from Napa Valley’s hillside regions such as the Spring Mountain District and Atlas Peak.

Winemakers of still wines around the valley reported yesterday that harvest looks to start a week to ten days earlier than last year as well. Pierre Birebent, winemaker at Signorello Estate along the Silverado Trail in Napa, says his crew will start picking at the beginning of September. Remi Cohen, director of winemaking and vineyards at Cliff Lede Vineyards in Yountville, also noted an earlier start by two weeks while providing a review of the growing season.

She told db: “After a dry and warm winter, we continued to experience warm to hot weather through spring and summer. Vines responded with moderate vigor and a good set. Minimal canopy work was required and vines set a naturally good balance between vegetative growth with enough leaf cover to protect the clusters, and a nice uniform crop.

“At Cliff Lede Vineyards, we thinned early and manicured clusters by removing wings. Veraison occurred about two weeks early and progressed rapidly and uniformly. We anticipate starting the Sauvignon Blanc harvest in late August and earlier Bordeaux red varietals in early September, about ten days to two weeks early. We are enthusiastic about vine balance and uniformity and are looking forward to getting an early start to harvest 2013.

“It started,” she continued, “with a very dry winter and spring, which gave us a bit of a scare as water reserves are very important to ensure a smooth growing season for our vines. But Mother Nature compensated with mild weather during spring so we didn’t have to use much water for frost protection, and could wisely use it for the vine canopy growth. The crop looks good and healthy at this point, with yields slightly above average. It is not as big as 2012, but still on the high side. Overall, we are on track for an excellent vintage.”

You can follow the Napa Valley harvest on the NVV’s website starting 16 August.

Titled “Harvest Napa Valley 2013: The Grapest Story Ever Told”, you will find it at www.napavintners.com.

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