Quality California Winegrape Crop This Year

The harvest bins weren’t necessarily bursting this year in California winegrape country, but the quality was repeatedly described by industry veterans as outstanding. (Photo Credit: George Rose, California Wine Institute)
The harvest bins weren’t necessarily bursting this year in California winegrape country, but the quality was repeatedly described by industry veterans as outstanding. (Photo Credit: George Rose, California Wine Institute)

The 2016 California winegrape harvest was early, with a mostly normal yield of exceptional quality fruit throughout the state. A relatively even growing season followed welcome rains that helped to alleviate the drought.

“It’s been a good season — the grapes are in great condition, showcasing spectacular flavors,” said Randy Ullom, Winemaster at Kendall-Jackson Wines, with vineyards in Sonoma County and statewide.

Cathy Corison, Owner/Winemaker at Corison Winery in Napa Valley was equally pleased: “2016 was early, small and delicious. The entire ripening season enjoyed cooler than average daytime highs and cold nights — perfect for inky, complex wines. Measured in pace, it was also easy on the winemakers.”

The overall state crop was estimated by the California Department of Food and in late summer to be near the historical average of 3.9 million tons.

“Anticipated El Niño rainfall was less than hoped for (8 inches) in Paso Robles, but still greater than the prior four vintages of drought, and appears to have had a positive effect on yields and quality in our Bordeaux and Rhone varietals in 2016,” said Jeff Meier, Director of Winemaking/President, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines.

“Yield projections for 2016 were slightly below long-term averages, but most varieties are coming in at or above estimates — a welcome outcome for Paso Robles growers. Overall, the vintage of 2016 is delivering high-quality, high-color ‘Merlot’ and ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ from the cooler microclimates and fruit-intensive Rhone varietals.”

In Lodi, Michael David Winery hit the halfway mark at the end of September, said Adam Mettler, Director of Winemaking.

“The harvest pace was steady and extremely level with little peaks of chaos, he said. Small heat spikes followed by fairly moderate weather have pushed sugars up in vineyards where needed and then allowed time for growers and wineries to get fruit off in a timely manner without major fruit breakdown or raisining.

“Fruit looks exceptional so far — probably the cleanest ‘Zinfandel’ crop I have seen in some time,” Mettler said. “The wines are coming out beautifully, and it’s another fantastic harvest in Lodi.”

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