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US starts 2012 grape harvest

As the 2012 grape harvest begins across the US, Californian growers are reporting a perfect growing season, but other states are counting the cost of a drought-ridden summer.

The first sparkling wine grapes are being harvested in the Napa Valley, heralding the beginning of the 2012 grape harvest across the US, with industry bodies hailing one of the best vintages of recent years.

Jennifer Putnam, executive director of Napa Valley Grapegrowers, told the Napa Valley Register: “This is the most beautiful growing season we have experienced in some years.” She added: “People are ready to pick, the fruit is looking lovely, the weather is going to hold and we couldn’t be more excited.”

The Wine Institute of California says 2012 looks like being a “good to great” year in both the quality and size of harvest. California has not been widely affected by the drought conditions experienced in some other states, where yields are likely to be reduced.

In states like Illinois, Tennessee, Georgia and Nebraska, harvest is expected to be around three weeks earlier than normal, and could see yields cut by up to 50% from usual levels.

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