California 2017: Regional reports

With the 2017 vintage in California being hailed as excellent despite a summer heat wave and the wildfires in the north of the state, here are the regional reports from each of the major AVAs from north to south.

North Coast:

Mendocino: An earlier harvest than 2016 but only just, the winter rains fortified the vineyards in advance of the summer heatwave.

The August heat meant the white varieties had to be gathered in extremely early but the later ripening reds enjoyed cooler weather. Quality and yields for the Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel were very good but Chardonnay may be a little scarcer.

Napa Valley: As with Mendocino, Napa growers delighted at the winter rains and mild spring. A freak hailstorm in June caused isolated damage here and there but all progressed well until the heat spiked over the Labor Day weekend which brought on a rush to harvest.

Yields will be slightly smaller than usual due to fruit being discarded due to shriveling and raisining as well as damage from the wildfires.

Sonoma County: Record-breaking winter rainfall to the begin the season and a mild spring with a normal bud break meant a relatively stress-free start to the year but after the heat wave some of the grapes left to hang in the cooler September weather were then hit by rains which required canopy thinning. Despite being in the path of the fires as Mendocino and Napa were, the only real losses were reported to come from losses due to the summer heat.

The vintage has been compared, in some quarters, to the 2003, 2013 and 2014, with excellent colour, pronounced flavours and generally high quality across all varieties.

Lake County: Great optimism here for the quality of the wines after much needed rains in an area hit by wildfires in 2015 and 2016.

Despite the summer heat, the harvest was slightly later than usual, going on well into October. However, unlike other regions there was no problem with the fruit shriveling and the crop was generous in size as well.

One Response to “California 2017: Regional reports”

  1. The issue will now be smoke taint, which can be difficult to detect in young wine without prior experience.

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