The 2018 Winegrape Harvest Builds Balance at a Steady Pace
Cool nights and warm days over an extended period preserve acidity and develop flavor complexity
NOTES FROM THE VINEYARD (from the Napa Valley Grapegrowers)
2018 has been an exciting year so far. In February, rain was abundant and when the skies cleared, endless days of sunshine followed. Then tiny buds emerged from the dormant vines, marking the beginning of the 2018 growing season. Looking across the valley floor in the early spring, it was a sea of bright, strong growth. In the spring, vines flowered uniformly, which paved the way for even cluster development.
“A very even bloom was followed by a rapid veraison this year and to date our ripening period has been void of extreme heat which will allow for some extended hang time and great phenolic maturity in the fruit,” said Paul Goldberg, director of operations at Bettinelli Vineyards and president of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers.
2018’s first picks occurred mid-August, about a week or so later than 2017. These were primarily for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for sparkling wine. Other white varieties, and those for still wines, began coming off the vines in late August.
As growers enter October, activities will speed up, as the majority of red varieties ripen and begin to come in. Viticulturists closely monitor grape phenolics to ensure that harvest occurs at exactly the right time and once the pick date is set, vineyard crews spring into action. It’s a well-choreographed operation that Napa Valley growers wait for the entire year- Valley – it’s show time.
Goldberg concluded, “This growing season has been marked by a steadiness that has led to great uniformity throughout the vineyards and exceptional fruit quality.”
NOTES FROM THE WINERY (from the Napa Valley Vintners)
NVV board member and Favia winemaker Andy Erickson, who works in multiple nested appellations throughout the Napa Valley, said that after a month of picking white varieties, reds like Cabernet Sauvignon are just starting to come in and that the recent cool weather has been extremely beneficial.
“The first reds that we’re seeing, the color, the aromatics, the acidity, it’s all there,” said Erickson, who added he is delighted about the potential for even further development of fruit still on the vine. “Now that it’s officially fall, that’s when you get some really interesting late-season flavors.” Erickson and several other NVV members have also reported strong yields.
Overall, a very balanced growing season has vintners extremely optimistic about the 2018 harvest.
LEARN MORE ABOUT NAPA VALLEY’S HARVEST
More information about the 2018 Napa Valley harvest from the 550 winery members of the NVV can be found at harvestnapa.com including:
- Photos and stories shared directly by vineyard and cellar crews on social media
- Regular updates on the stages of this year’s harvest
- Educational videos about harvest and winemaking
- Winery event listings
- Wine-friendly recipes
2018 HARVEST PRESS CONFERENCE
On Tuesday, October 23 at 9:00 a.m. the Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) will give a complete report on the season via its annual Harvest Press Conference, streamed live through their Facebook page. NVG speaker members include:
- Kelly MacLeod, Director of Operations at Hudson Vineyards
- Sam Kaplan, Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at Arkenstone
- Pete Richmond, Founding Partner at Silverado Farming Company