Harvest 2017 in Dry Creek Valley – Sonoma Wine Country
What has been a rather inconsistent year of weather has turned into a challenging, yet rewarding harvest for our growers in here in Dry Creek Valley. The WDCV reached out to a few of our members for a summary and prediction on how harvest 2017 is shaping up. Overall, quality predictions are exceptionally optimistic for the clusters who have survived these inconsistent seasonal shifts, however, for this same reason, yields are expected to be down or consistent with 2016 depending on the variety.
Harvest 2017 commenced in early August with grapes for sparkling wines and, due to a cooler August, continued slowly with sauvignon blanc and reds for rosé style wines. This dramatically shifted with 100+ degree weather that arrived over Labor Day weekend. Growers struggled to find the necessary vineyard labor and toyed with the decisions to start harvesting fruit that could otherwise be compromised by the intense heat. Other challenges this year included heavy rain resulting increased vine vigor, lack of labor to help keep up on vineyard maintenance, mildew in early summer and sunburn in the tail end.
Heat isn’t always a bad thing when vineyards are prepared. David Mounts of Mounts Family Vineyards is fond of heat for flavor development saying, “a warmer summer helps the flavors in the skins to develop riper flavors at low sugars.” As long as the heat is contrasted with cool nights, the acid will retain in the juice. Mounts is approaching this vintage with a unique style – by creating wines from both scenarios: blocks with grape clusters that set well and ones from those with shatter (def: when a grape cluster fails to develop into maturity).
An enthusiastic outlook for zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley’s signature grape, as Seghesio Family Vineyards, Ned Neumiller, explains that “shattered clusters normally lend themselves to high quality wines.” Although zinfandel was challenged with a handful of weeks swinging from cool to very hot, Mark Farmer of Famighetti Vineyards thinks this may have “tricked the grapes from their normal cycle” resulting in some shriveling grapes.
Farmer is optimistic of his diverse varieties grown at Famighetti – grenache, viognier, syrah & zinfandel all are, “looking and tasting good.” Other varieties expected to be incredible vintages are cabernet sauvignon with “tiny berries and thick skins,” says Mounts.
In conclusion, it sounds like we have an outstanding, unique vintage awaiting us in these 2017 varieties and, we can’t wait to try them!
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