Central Coast appellations begin harvest with slight winter hangover

The dry winter and cold snap that hit California’s Central Coast region early in the year are starting to come into play as harvest begins. Even though growing conditions since then have been almost ideal, that early season environmental zap will likely have an impact on yields, if not quality.

“We’ve just barely started harvest on some Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay,” says Dana Merrill, Mesa Vineyard Management, Templeton, Calif. “We’ve picked for only a couple of nights at this point and it’s light. I’d say those varieties are off about 10 percent to 20 percent of normal. Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara Counties got hit with the drought and some of the vines had some winter kill due to the cold snap we experienced.”

Pinot Noir is also anticipated to fall about 20 percent from average, according to Merrill. That’s not necessarily bad news, however.

“I think it’s better to produce good quality grapes than a lot of grapes,” he says. “We’re still hearing about the glut of 2005. Sometimes I wonder if we’ll ever quit hearing about 2005. This year we’ve got a good quality crop. A portion of Cabernet, Syrah, and Merlot may end up in bulk wine, and having good quality for that market will serve us well.”

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