Foothills wine grape growers remain bullish about harvest

We’ve been in touch with the wine grape growers in the foothills throughout the harvest, including during the recent rains. The growers remain optimistic that we’re headed for one of the best harvests in years, particularly when it comes to the quality.

We checked with Jackson Starr, assistant winemaker/vineyard manager of Sierra Starr Vineyard and Winery, this week, and he was bullish, pointing out that the harvest is way ahead of schedule. Sierra Starr has completed most of its harvest, and Jackson said it could wind up being one of the best in years. (Sierra Starr’s “Old Clone” Zin is now sold at Corti Bros. market in Sacramento, a real honor).

Here’s what Mark Henry, owner-winemaker of Montoliva Vineyard and Winery, told us when we caught up with him yesterday: “The Burgundians would have a hearty laugh at the idea of a one-day rain putting a damper on the quality of the harvest. Up here in the foothills we have a distinct advantage over the Napa-lites and Sonomans.

“In those areas the issue is that it will rain, and then probably stay cold and foggy for days afterwards, like it did in 2011.

“Then you’ve got issues with bunch rot.  Up here we will get a day of rain, but then it clears up, we get some wind (which helps dry things out), and it warms back up…like it always does, except for when it doesn’t (like 2011). So, nope, I’m still incredibly bullish about this vintage. Even more so now after the rain. 

“That rain probably stalled out ripening for a few days.  With the weather forecast calling for moderately warm and dry at least into the next two weeks, that pushes harvest back even more.  More time for physiological ripening without the astronomically high sugars.”

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