So, here’s the deal.
At least for most wineries, we’re nearing the end of the 2010 harvest. And thank goodness. It has been a challenging one from the first sign of bud break.
However, the choice for harvest to finish may not be ours. There is a huge storm lurking in the Pacific set to hit us this weekend. Sure, that’s bad news. Even worse, it’s supposed to be raining for 5 days straight. This weather could be devastating for any fruit left out on the vine.
So, vineyard managers and winemakers are working like crazy to get as many tons in as possible. After talking with several folks in the industry, it appears that Chardonnay and Cabernet are the dominant grape varietals left on the vine right now.
But if the grapes aren’t ready, there’s no reason to bring them in. As mentioned in a previous post, we can’t add sugar to the fermenting juice to raise the alcohol levels. Even if we could, it usually creates a wine that is unbalanced. There is no reason to pick if the grapes aren’t ready. We can’t fix it in the cellar.
But, the rain that’s coming isn’t even the biggest problem. It’s Autumn and the leaves are changing colors.
When the leaves change color from green to yellow, gold or red, they stop photosynthesising. No chlorophyl, no photosynthesis and no further growth. In other words, it’s all over. There will be no more ripening. So, if the grapes aren’t ready, they never will be. They will officially be left behind.
Here’s a vine with lots of fruit and no leaves. A great example of the issue that many growers are dealing with.
So, is it all over? Pretty much. Or at least it will be close to being over by this weekend. There may be some late harvest wine grapes that will be left out there, but it’s likely that the amount of rain we’re going to receive would even be devastating to those types of wines.
How did the harvest end up? It was short, compact, light (not a lot of grapes) and challenging.
Do I still think there are going to be some great wines from this season? You betcha. There just won’t be a lot of them. As mentioned before, this will be good for the industry as a whole. An industry which is a little heavy with current inventories. However, for those wineries that are doing well with moving through their wine, this will be a challenging time. But supply and demand has taught us lots of things over time. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
It’s unfortunate, but I think the media and press have already chalked this harvest / growing season up to be awful and the public will likely follow. Hopefully, the wine drinkers of the world will decide on their own after tasting the wines. I know my mind isn’t made up yet, but I’m still optimistic.