Napa County winegrape harvest 'early, even, excellent'

ST. HELENA -- The 2013 winegrape harvest in Napa County is anticipated to be mostly complete by the end of October, according to trade group Napa Valley Vintners.Last grapes for Rombauer arrive at the winery on Oct. 22.

Vintners and growers described the growing season as “early, even and excellent,” according to the St. Helena-based trade association.

“In a nutshell, this vintage has given us the extraordinary gift of enabling us to pick exactly what we wanted, when we wanted, at perfect ripeness and ideal hang time,” noted Paul Colantuoni, winemaker at Rocca Family Vineyards.

A warm, dry spring brought early "bud break," when vines start showing visible signs of growth after winter. That helped with "canopy vigor" and berry size and created ideal conditions for flowering and fruit set under sunny skies, according to the trade group.

A late June, early July heat spike as an anomaly for what was otherwise a season dominated by temperatures that were consistently in the range considered optimal for vine activity, according to Napa Valley Vintners. That resulted in notably healthy vines as the fruit went through veraison -- when grape berries change color -- and started ripening.Harvest highlightsHarvest photos and video are posted at winegrower reviews of the 2013 growing season and resulting fruit.Business Journal coverage of the 2013 winegrape harvest

The Aug. 1 start of the harvest for table wines in Napa Valley was the earliest in recent history, according to the association. White wine grapes came in at a "furious" pace throughout that month, followed by lighter-color red grapes by early September.

Two brief mid-September rains had virtually no impact on the grapes, the trade group said. The vast majority of the more delicate-skinned grapes had already been harvested, and sunny weather with breezes after the rains quickly dried the remaining grapes on the vine -- thicker-skinned cabernet sauvignon.

The cooler, sunny weather throughout October allowed the final grapes still on the vine to linger longer, developing more phenolic and flavor maturities with sugar levels remaining steady.

As this harvest comes to a close, it is about two weeks earlier than other Napa Valley harvests in the last decade. Yields on the whole have been above average.

Winemakers from around the valley agree the 2013 vintage holds exceptional promise and potential and exceeded expectations following on the heels of 2012 -- another year that has been described as "nearly perfect." The following are reports from association members from the American Viticultural Areas of Napa County.Harvest reports from around Napa CountyCalistoga

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