Vintage Watch VI

Keeping an eye on the weather as harvest nears


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Vintage Watch VI Once again the lead story in weather last week was hail in France, this time in southern Alsace where it is reported that the damage to vineyards along low lying regions near the towns of Turckheim and Colmar may total up to 60% of the year's crop, though the Grand Cru vineyards laying further upslope were spared the worst of the damage.

This of course adds to the devastating hail damage French vintners have suffered throughout this summer in the Loire Valley, Burgundy, Champagne, and Bordeaux. The damage in Burgundy and Bordeaux was so severe, in many cases breaking through the vine's bark and damaging the underlying wood, that production will be impacted this year as well as next.

On a lighter note, the grape harvest in California has begun to move north as producers in Napa and Sonoma have already begun to bring in fruit for sparkling and rose wines, following Lodi by about a week. Let's see what's in store for growers this week!

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  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 4,003

    Driving through the vineyards of Zin, Chardonnay and Pinot (along with some Sauv Blanc) up in Alexander Valley, DCV and RRV this weekend, the bunches were full, the grapes looked incredibly ripe and dark. Zin, a variety noted for uneven ripening, looked quite uniformly black-purple and big. I wanted to jump out of the car and start picking. Now it's very warm, so I expect that picking will indeed start very soon. No concerns about long hang times because our mild and dry winter and last year's perfect weather meant that we had early bud break and what looks to be impressive fruit set. Amazing how fast the fruit grew from the end of June when bunch closure came until now. I think it will be an epic year in Napa and Sonoma, with cool weather to slow the sugars and a long season for excellent phenolic mellowing. I think yields will be good but not quite as off the charts as last year. I think there will be fantastic deals on shiners and side projects by for-hire winemakers who want to put out their own wines, or who want to make something with someone else's fruit or a variety they don't usually get to play with from the 2012 season, then steady prices on the smaller but equally outstanding crop of 2013. They won't be able to raise prices that much with so much 2012 product still available.
    Sad for France that they took the worst. C'est la vie. '09 and '10 were great back to back vintages for many of their wines, while everyone had a tougher time in '11, it seems.

    Aug 19, 2013 at 6:16 PM

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