“A Great Winemaking Year” Is Predicted

WINE ENTHUSIASTS REJOICE: SIERRA foothill wine growers are excited about this year’s harvest, with predictions it will create some outstanding wines.

“This is going to be a great winemaking year,” predicts Mike Naggiar, owner of Naggiar Vineyards. “I’m looking at the best harvest ever,” says Mark Henry, owner-winemaker at Montoliva Vineyard.

After picking his estate-grown Barbera Rosé grapes, owner-winemaker Jacques Mercier of Solune Vineyards declared: “I’m as giddy as a chef who just acquired fresh truffles.” You can expect an excellent wine from these grapes—Jacques is one of the region’s most accomplished winemakers.

The optimism among wine growers is welcome after some tough years, underscored by one of the worst economic downturns in decades.

Though the dry weather last winter led to lower yields for this year’s harvest—15 percent in some cases—the smaller, more compact clusters of grapes will make some spectacular wines, according to the growers.

The wine grape harvest in the foothills began about two weeks early, starting with the white varietals and continuing with the reds. A Labor Day rainstorm offered a scare, with the risk of damaging the ripening grapes, but most foothills’ vineyards were unscathed.

The value of grape crops in the foothills has been growing. Last year it stood at $769,000 in Placer County alone, up from $400,704 a year earlier, a lighter-than usual harvest. This translates into millions of dollars in bottled wine sales. For comparison’s sake, it takes about 600 to 800 wine grapes (2.4 pounds) to make a bottle of wine, according to the Wine Institute.

Good times are returning to winemaking for the rest of the state as well. Last year, California’s wine grape harvest was the largest to date at more than 4.38 million tons, topping the record haul in 2005.

Grape prices also reached record highs. Wine-type grapes are grown in 46 of California’s 58 counties, the Wine Institute says.

Second only to Disneyland
Wineries and vineyards are the second most popular tourist destination in California after Disneyland. A total of 14.8 million tourists visit the state’s wine regions each year.

Here’s a video about Nevada County wineries:

Here’s a video on Placer County wineries:

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