Harvest 2018 began in Dry Creek Valley in the last days of August and will continue through November. We’ve been checking in with our growers and winemakers throughout the season, charting their progress and sharing their photos and stories with you. To see photos and keep up with the latest news, follow us on our social media channels.
Search the hashtag #SCHarvest to see what’s happening throughout Sonoma County.
What do our winemakers, growers and wineries think about this year’s harvest? Here’s a Q&A into their predictions.
How is this year’s Zin harvest in terms of quality and yield?
- For what I see I expect excellent quality from all our Zinfandel lots although our yields are going to be slightly down. Montse Reece – Winemaker, Pedroncelli Winery
- Our blocks have average to large sized clusters, typical variable Zin berry size, typical variable Zin ripening, crop has been thinned down to a balanced load for the site, wings cut-off, green thin pass I think last week, tastes like tart unripe blueberries. Even though we have staffing challenges at the winery, it looks like the vineyard crew was able to keep on top of this block with it looking so well-managed. I am looking forward to tasting it once the blocks get a bit riper, keeping my fingers crossed that it’s as delicious as I am hoping it to be once it’s ready to pick in a few weeks. Rebecka Deike – Red Wines Winemaker, Ferrari-Carano
What have been the challenges of this particular growing season?
- The early heat was one challenge. If we had any clusters that were badly damaged then we have had to drop them in fruit thinning. Fortunately most vineyards came through that looking good. The other challenge has been an abundant crop of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot in some vineyards—there have been more than the normal number of shoots with three full clusters on them! So we’ve had to be diligent in our early fruit thinning to keep the crop in balance, especially since ripening is running a little behind where we have been the last few years. Sara Rathbun – Director of Marketing & Communications, Dry Creek Vineyard
When will/did harvest start and how do the yields look?
- This year’s timing of harvest is looking more like what used to be normal. I would expect to be starting with Sauvignon Blanc somewhere in the very last days of August or the first week of September. Sara Rathbun – Director of Marketing & Communications, Dry Creek Vineyard
- Harvest started for us at Amista on August 23rd. We picked Chardonnay for sparkling wine. This was a full two weeks later than when we have been picking the last few years. Quality and yields were very high and overall, I am incredibly pleased so far. Ashley Herzberg – Winemaker, Amista Vineyards
Anything new/exciting contributing to the quality of the harvest?
- The cooler temperatures we are having at night are allowing the grapes to mature at slower pace, developing more flavors and higher acidities than previous year. Montse Reece – Winemaker, Pedroncelli Winery
- I think the cooler weather allowing for longer hang times and flavor accumulation is the most exciting thing for me so far. I think the quality will be very high from our 2018 wines. Ashley Herzberg – Winemaker, Amista Vineyards
Any other notes on Sauv Blanc or Cab or other varieties?
- Sauvignon Blanc crop size is different from vineyard to vineyard. Some vineyards have loose clusters meaning yields may be a bit low, others have what looks like an abundant crop. Flavors in many vineyards are tasting great already. It’s going to be nice if we have a solid Cab crop for a change—we’re due! Sara Rathbun – Director of Marketing & Communications, Dry Creek Vineyard
- Sauvignon Blanc is on target to be pick late August, beginning September a few days later than previous vintage, we have bigger crop on Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. Montse Reece – Winemaker, Pedroncelli Winery
- We make Rockpile Cabernet Sauvignon and the clusters look full without the shatter we’ve seen in recent years. Yields look like they will be higher, which is very exciting for us. Ashley Herzberg – Winemaker, Amista Vineyards
- I think the Sauvignon Blanc is coming along nicely. This year the clusters seem about average, not too big or too small. Looks like it is shaping up to be a good year for Sauvignon Blanc as I am already tasting nice apple and citrus flavors. Sarah Quider – Executive Winemaker, Ferrari-Carano
1 FUN FACTS ABOUT HARVEST
- Most grapes are harvested at night! Harvesting at night saves money (no need to cool grapes before crushing), is easier on the workers and ensures a stable sugar level in the grapes, something that fluctuates when the temperature rises.
- The flavors of wine are affected by how long the grapes are on the vine. Earlier harvested grapes have lower sugar levels and higher acidity for a crisp, tart wine (typically white wines!). Red grapes require a more balanced sugar and acidity level for complexity. And dessert wines are left on the vines the longest!
- It’s not the grapes that determine the color, it’s the skin. Skin contact when making wine is called “maceration” and extracts color and fruit flavor from the skins without any bitter tannins! Think of it like making a cup of tea and how leaving a tea bag in your cup affects the color and flavor.
Continue reading these fun facts on our blog – click here.
Make sure you’re following us on Instagram (@drycreekvalleywines) for up-to-the-moment updates on all of the Harvest-action!
Did you know – after about age 50, a zinfandel vine is considered “old,” but at 50, zin may not even be half-way through its life. In Dry Creek Valley, you will find vineyards with vines that are more than 120-years-old. Curious to learn more about wine as harvest approaches? Visit our most recent blog for ten more facts. 🍇 Photo Credit: @vineration at @nallewinery