Wine Talk

Snooth User: Richard Foxall

California Harvest 2011

Posted by Richard Foxall, Oct 6, 2011.

Just wanted to get a thread going on this topic.  Outthere was kind enough to update us in another thread. From what I have read, the late rains (June! Second year in a row, but otherwise almost unprecedented in my lifetime of 48 years, almost all in CA) prevented pollination of many buds.  Yields all over Northern Cal were waaay down, like 50% in some vineyards in Napa mountain appellations. Summer was 10 degrees cooler than normal, slowing the ripening. Which wouldn't be so bad, especially as there was no killing heat spike, except now it's raining like crazy and the Cab Sauv is not in.

According to a post I read in a blog about harvest (I'll dig out the link later), Fred Scherrer of Scherrer Winery picked very small crops from one of his PN suppliers.  His Zin is in, but, again, yields are down.  This hasn't been the result of thinning and selection, so the impact on quality isn't necessarily positive.  Rather, some shoots and even entire plants have set no fruit at all.

outthere and HondaJohn, please add to this as you see fit, since you actually live up in Sonoma and are in the business.  I'll add some links later for anyone who wants it straight from the vineyards.


Reply by JonDerry, Oct 6, 2011.

Didn't realize how much of a challenge it was overall, would have to think definitely a bit more extreme than 2010's conditions. Have a couple reports from a couple wineries I follow (Whitcraft, Central Coast. Larkmead, Calistoga-Napa)

To quote Drake Whitcraft, "I just picked before the rain... It was another hard year in terms of incredibly low yields, lots of loose clusters, shot clusters... the price you pay for '07, '08 and '09 being great I guess. This looks to be great too but those years weren't as hard to hand sort. We (had to...) de-stemmed 25% by hand!! took 8 hours to do one ton... ouch!!

This is more of a blanket statement from Larkmead, but it came in the middle of summer, so still waiting to hear how they're coping at Harvest time: When we think of the great estates of Napa or Bordeaux, the cult wines and the fabled classics, lest we forget, wine begins with farming. With Mother Nature dictating our fate, we’ve watched the 2011 growing season begin with a slow start - an extended wet Winter and late Spring. Unfortunate cold temps and rain during bloom have been devastating to some vineyards in Northern California and Larkmead has been effected as well but we’re optimistic that this vintage shows promise. Mother Nature’s natural selection on the vine has done some of our farming for us and we’re anticipating as the old saying goes, only the strong (most flavorful grapes) shall survive.

Reply by dmcker, Oct 6, 2011.

Wasn't aware that HondaJohn actually lived in Sonoma. Thought it was more down towards the Valley and that he just headed up there on weekends. Would be good to see him back here on occasion, wherever he might be.

Hey, Fox, I was actually enjoying seeing the harvest notes for 2011 next to those for 2010, thus my dredging up of last year's thread. Oh well, it's now back off to forum oblivion... ;-)

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