harvest basket with white wine grapes

#SCHarvest2014: September Update from Dry Creek Valley

September is the busiest time for our wineries in Dry Creek Valley, with a fast and furious #SCHarvest14 season well under way. This year is expected to be a vintage of exceptional quality, with somewhat smaller yields than 2012 and 2013, but richly-pigmented, approachable reds and mouthwatering whites.  Some producers are calling 2014 the best vintage they’ve ever seen.

The king of Dry Creek Valley is zinfandel, where it thrives in the area’s unique climate, with long warm days that allow the fruit to fully ripen and coastal cooling breezes that enable the grapes to retain their acidity and balance through the process of maturation. Zinfandel loves hot weather, and this year delivered a warm spring and a very warm summer. In Healdsburg, there were multiple days in July and August reaching into the mid-90s, but monthly averages overall were around 81 degrees Fahrenheit. All grapes love a big diurnal temperature shift, and in July and August of 2014, daily lows were often more than 20 degrees cooler than daily highs.

Although the drought is a challenge all over California, the wineries in Dry Creek Valley are reporting that the grapes are healthy and delicious. Here’s what some of our producers had to say:

Mick Unti of UNTI Vineyards called 2014, “easily one of the best vintages ever for our Zin.” He said, “we are obviously excited. I’m guessing this is true for everyone in Dry Creek Valley.” Zinfandel will be, “concentrated and structured.” Unti says that overall his wines will have slightly more intense flavors and brighter acidity than 2013. The winery is recognized for its many Italian grape varieties as well as its Rhone varieties, and Unti described beautiful sangiovese, barbera, vermentino, fiano, and grenache blanc this year. Unti expects to wrap things up by the first week of October.

Lana Mounts of Mounts Winery said that old-vine zin clusters are smaller in size this year  but are abundant, which should produce richly-extracted wines. She told us that the winery, “expects the quality to be outstanding due to small clusters, small berries in general, and if there’s no rain through October, we’ll have a nice long hang-time to mature flavors.” The first of their Zinfandel came in on September 15th.

Bill Smart of Dry Creek Vineyard was excited that their sauvignon blanc—the most well-known white wine grape in the area—showed ripeness and complex flavors earlier than usual. They are also excited for zinfandel, which is looking delicious.

Andrew Fegelman of Quivira Vineyard and Winery said, “This looks to be a good year in terms of quality. Winemaker Hugh Chappelle said that the fruit that has arrived so far is gorgeous.”

Montse Reece, Associate Winemaker at Pedroncelli Winery confirms that their yield is smaller this year than last and says, “The intensity of color on our zinfandels is outstanding!” The winery says this will be the third great vintage in a row for Dry Creek Valley.

cab sauv ripening on the vine

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If you liked reading this, you’ll also enjoy:

Our August blog on the harvest

Our interactive winery map

Mick Unti’s feature on Grape Collective

The Sonoma County Harvest Tracker