Harvest is “definitely here” at Sierra Foothill wineries

The harvest is underway at Sierra Foothill wineries, with signs that yields may be average to high with good quality, we’re happy to report.

Harvest at Naggiar began in the middle of the night on Thursday with its Viognier from block 16, the Grass Valley winery reported. “So starting under the lights at 3 a.m. on Thursday, we immediately crush and press the grapes as soon as they arrive at the winery, a whopping 5 minutes after picking,” the Naggiar blog reported.

“At Naggiar, all of our grape varietals are estate grown, enabling immediate processing.  The importance of this is the fruit stays cold, inhibiting the growth of bacteria and yeast (which can cause spontaneous fermentation) as well as preventing premature oxidation in white varietals.”

Over in Penn Valley, Pilot Peak is reporting: “Our Estate grown Sauvignon Blanc came in on Monday and today the Viognier arrived…in fact Lynn and Steve will be pressing off the juice into the wee hours of tomorrow morning… ETA for finishing sometime between 3 and 5 am tomorrow….. no rest… Harvest is definitely here…”  

In North Auburn, Lone Buffalo Vineyards also said its harvest has begun.

“The Sauvignon blanc grapes are ready,” reports Sierra Starr. “After more testing today, we decided we need to start picking tomorrow, Friday, August 23. We will also be picking on Saturday.” Montoliva also has begin harvesting Pino Grigio grapes.

Harvest for grapes used in other wines is still weeks away, however. September is going to be a very busy month for members of Sierra Vinters in Nevada County — from Avanguardia to Szabo — and the Placer Wine Trail wineries — from Casque to Viña Castellano.

The grape harvest got going in Napa earlier this month — at least a week ahead of normal — growers reported. The weather cooperated, with warm days and cool nights. Some growers report being a full month ahead of 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Growers in Northern California did face a few weather issues, including some rain in June. Last year saw a return to more normal weather patterns for Sierra Foothills growers, and the trend largely continued this year.

An ideal growing season assured an excellent 2012 vintage after some challenging years. The California winegrape harvest is estimated at 3.7 million tons, up from 3.3 million tons in 2011, according to the Wine institute.

We’ll keep you posted as the harvest continues.

Here’s a video from harvest at Naggiar in previous years.

(photo credit: Dan Senkbeil)

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