The California Vintners Report came out this week and described this year as “a tale of two harvests”, with the heatwave in the week around Labor Day dividing the season into earlier and later picks. . Besides some of the “curve balls” one winemaker states the quality was “off the charts”
The summer growing season was ideal on the North Coast, the report said, until the late August heatwave accelerated the harvest and reduced yields in many places. Mendocino, however, saw yields up in 2019, because of the cool spring and milder-than-normal temperatures, even though the extended heat wave and limited water resources for irrigation proved challenging during the harvest.
Meanwhile, Lodi and the Sierra Foothills saw some late frost after a mild spring “dramatically” reduced the size of the crop.
There was good news from Napa Valley, which recorded excellent quality. More than 20 inches of rain fell in October and December 2021, bucking the years of drought seen across the region, which was followed by dry conditions from January until March. The Spring was mild and cool, but the Labor Day heatwave sent temperatures soaring into triple digits – up t0 110 -118 degrees in some places – for nearly a week, although cools nights helped to temper this and allows the vines to recharge.
This caused ripening to accelerate throughout the valley, and picking began earlier-than-average for many varieties, although growers had to use multiple techniques to help vines ride out the heat, where unripe grapes had been left to hang. There was some dehydration though, resulting in lower yields but greater concentration and flavor intensity, the report said.
Nate Weis, vice president of winegrowing at Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars in the Napa Valley said 2022 was likely to be “a pretty intense vintage — concentrated and powerful”, with particularly Pinot Noir from the Russian River, Anderson Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands, and good Merlot and Cabernet Franc. “The quality,” he said, “is off the charts.”
Duckhorn Vineyards’s vice president of winemaking Renée Ary noted the estate’s Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot were “some of the best ever and the Chardonnays are bright, balanced and focused”, she said.
“Given the range of ripeness, blending will be important for the 2022 vintage as we balance our early and later picks.”
Meanwhile, in Sonoma County, limited rainfall, early season frost, warm spring and an early summer proved to have no ill effects, although some yields were lighter than average. However, the report noted that “fruit quality thus far is stunning and the overall smaller berry and cluster sizes point to a stellar 2022 vintage… [with] vintners… reporting wonderful concentration and flavor in the wines.”
Lisa Amaroli, director of winemaking at Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County said it was “one for the record books”.
It comes as California’s Wine Institute has begun a new push to increase Californian wine exports – part of its ten-year strategy to grow US wine export sales to more than $2.5 billion by 2030.
View the full 2022 California Harvest Report, including regional reports from Amador County, Calaveras County, El Dorado County, Lake County, Livermore Valley, Lodi, Mendocino County, Monterey County, Napa Valley, Paso Robles, San Diego County, Santa Barbara County, Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains and Sonoma County: https://wineinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Wine_Institute_2022_Harvest_Report.pdf
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