And just like that, the 2018 harvest season is coming to an end. Vintners throughout Napa Valley are stepping back and reflecting on the steady harvest they had this year. The near-perfect growing season started later than previous years, saw ideal weather conditions throughout and is coming to a close for a majority of wineries throughout the valley. Wines from the 2018 vintage are now quietly developing in cellars, and winemakers are pinching themselves and smiling for the gift it appears Mother Nature has given them.
A brief but welcomed period of rain gave harvest crews a much-needed breather, allowing time to catch up on work in the cellar before the next round of picking. While some producers are still waiting to bring in Cabernet Sauvignon, many are reporting that the majority of their fruit will be hitting crush pads in the next few weeks. The crisp fall mornings and sunny days are allowing for optimum ripening, and the winemaking community couldn’t be happier. While everyone is at different stages of harvest all can agree that yields are higher than anticipated and quality of the 2018 vintage has been exceptional thus far.
With white wines now behind us, winemakers throughout the valley are steadily bringing in their first picks of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel. While many are still patiently waiting for their red wine grapes to start rolling in, everyone can agree that these warm days and cool nights are perfect for that last bit of ripening. The grapes that are still on the vine are looking very good, and yields appear to be above average. However, many producers are reporting that the bulk of Cabernet Sauvignon harvest will be around mid to late October.
What a difference a year can make. A year ago, many winemakers were busy bringing in fruit and keeping up with Mother Nature’s curveballs, while this year’s harvest is quiet. Many producers throughout the valley are steadily bringing in Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and the first few bins of red wine. We are still weeks away from harvesting Cabernet Sauvignon as growers are waiting for temperatures and sugar levels to rise. If the weather continues this way, we’re in for a beautiful harvest with an abundance of elegant and complex flavors developed through a balanced and even growing season.
The first fruit of harvest 2018 is in! Duckhorn Vineyards, Domaine Chandon, Mumm Napa, Judd’s Hill and Monticello Vineyards are just a few members who have had fruit make their way from the vineyard to the crush pad. The picking of white wine grapes, like Sauvignon Blanc, will start in the next week to 14 days. Recent warm temperatures are helping the transition from veraison to full ripeness. While this year’s harvest is slightly behind last year, many winemakers are breathing a sigh of relief to a more even, less challenging growing season. Winery teams are gearing up for their busiest time of year, bottling recent vintages and making tank space for what’s to come.
We are on the cusp for Napa Valley’s 2018 harvest. With our warm, sunny days and crisp cool nights, it looks like harvest will not be underway for a couple more weeks. Winemakers are walking their vineyards, keeping a keen eye on what’s happening. Workers are strategically managing vine canopies to ensure optimal sun exposure while grapes are beginning veraison, the process of slowly changing color and transitioning to ripeness and softness.
Harvest represents the culmination of 12 months of rigorous work and concentrated effort. It’s also the time when we come together with the common goal of producing the best possible wines. We hope you’ll join us for updates, photos, videos, music and the stories of just what’s behind every bottle of Napa Valley wine.