California’s 2018 harvest ‘played out like a dream’


“There are early rumblings that the 2018 vintage will be reminiscent of 2016. After six years of early, warm harvests, 2018’s cool temperatures in late summer and early fall were a return to normal conditions by long-term standards—but surprising nonetheless. Temperatures during bud break and flowering were cool, followed by a hot July and a normal-to-cool ripening period during August and September. The start of this year’s harvest was the latest since 2011. Yields were average overall, but the Chardonnay crop was light. Fruit is concentrated with healthy acidity and good depth of flavor. Overall quality looks excellent.”


“Growers are very pleased with the long, slow 2018 growing season. The weather remained beneficially cool throughout the extended harvest season, punctuated with short periods of warm mid- to high-80s days, combined with relatively dry weather and low disease pressure. Pinot Noir in the cool San Ysidro and Madonna Pass areas was harvested the last week of September with Chardonnay, Viognier and valley floor Bordeaux varietals in mid-October. Red Rhone varietals were harvested in late October and early November. Overall fruit quality has been excellent, with notably long hang times, notably darker color and thicker skins than average, and relatively low sugar levels for equivalent pH and phenolic ripeness. Ever-popular Chardonnay remains the number one winegrape variety in the state.”


“Winegrowers reported a slow and steady season with terrific quality. A cool, moderate spring pushed bud break to late March/early April and flowering in June for many vineyards. Summer weather was moderate, with August temperatures a bit below normal—dipping into the low 70s. For the first time in many years, there was no major heat spike in September. Grapes were allowed to ripen slowly and consistently due to the moderate weather and extended hang time. Yields are expected to be higher than normal. Overall quality is exceeding expectations with low sugars and excellent phenolic ripeness for both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.”

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