Napa Valley expects ‘tremendous quality’ after near-perfect growing conditions in 2016

Napa Valley expects ‘tremendous quality’ after near-perfect growing conditions in 2016

 The harvest begins at Pine Ridge Vineyard, California (Photo: Business Wire)

The harvest begins at Pine Ridge Vineyard, California (Photo: Business Wire)

The harvest is under way in Napa Valley, with California's winemakers predicting a good vintage after near-perfect growing conditions in 2016.

The harvest is another early one, by historical standards, but similar in timing to the past three years.

It’s the white grapes, such as SauvignonThe main harvest is not expected to begin until the third week of August. Blanc, that are being picked first.

An early bud break followed by warm weather and spring rains brought a rapid start to this year’s growing season while the recent warm temperatures helped the grapes transition from veraison to full ripeness.

The main harvest is not expected to begin until the third week of August.

Garrett Buckland of Premiere Viticultural Services and president of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers said: “The ripening has gone well and it’s been a wonderful season with beautiful weather from bloom, to berry set, to hard seed, through veraison.”

With regards to yield, grapegrowers have reported that the average number of berries per cluster is higher than the historical average in some blocks, but overall, Buckland observed: “Yield looks good to me. This year is expected to be close to average with Cabernet Sauvignon slightly below the normal average. However, while yield is important, it is not the only factor in wine quality. We are anticipating tremendous quality this year.”

The Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) and Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) say their members are busy finishing canopy work, continuing to thin fruit and keeping a close eye on soil moisture as they wrap up key vineyard activities before settling in for a busy couple of months of harvesting and winemaking.

The main harvest is not expected to begin until the third week of August.

Meanwhile, winemakers such as Michael Honig, president of Honig Vineyard & Winery and vice chair of the NVV, are busy in their cellars bottling recent vintages and making tank and barrel space ready for the wines that will result from this year’s crop. “It’s the calm before the storm,” commented Honig. “Vintners are getting their wineries in tip-top shape, cleaning and checking equipment to ensure we’re ready. Vacations and time off are behind us and we’re rested and ready for the 24/7 nature of the months ahead.”

Winemakers are also out walking the vineyards with their grapegrower partners, participating in the process of deciding the optimal time to pick their grapes. “We’re excited for the promise of a fifth consecutive high quality harvest. Looks like it’s going to be another winning season in the Napa Valley,” said Honig.