Wine grape harvest wraps up

About the only thing remaining on the agenda for the 2007 season is for the fat lady to sing — and all signs are that she’ll be singing praises for an outstanding vintage. From south to north, wine grape harvest is mostly finished, and while yields are down overall, quality is excellent.

“Disease and pest pressures were down this year,” says Mike Schnell, owner of Hawk Watch Vineyards at Warner Springs. “We had our typical battle with deer, birds, and bees. In general sense, though, none caused the damage we have experienced in the past. That was mostly due to measures we took on our own property to minimize the impact.”

For most growers in the southland, weather conditions presented the greatest challenge.

“We started with a four-year-plus drought; then we had a week-long stretch of winter temperatures in the teens in January, and another cold snap in April, followed by temperatures in the 110- range in summer,” Schnell says.

“As a result of all that, we did experience a fairly considerable crop reduction. For certain varieties we lost over 50 percent, while others fared pretty well and set an average size crop. Quality, on the other hand, is exceptional across the board. All varieties ripened slowly, evenly, and completely.”

Central Coast growers are mostly finished or should finish this week. Lodi still has some reds in the vineyard for those wineries that like extended hang time. Moving northward, the 2007 crop is mostly in the hands of winemakers.

“Harvest is essentially done,” says Nick Frey, president of Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. “There were really no surprises. The grapes came through the rains in pretty good shape and many varieties were 100 percent harvested before the rains. All in all, the season turned out below average yields for growers but excellent color and flavor for winemakers. The wines should be very good.”

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