Ready for Reds

Perfect weather continues, stretching this year’s harvest for more than six weeks so far. Vintners from Carneros to Calistoga are reporting that aromatic white grapes like Sauvignon Blanc are mostly off the vine. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir harvests are winding down and the first reds – like Zinfandel, Syrah and a smattering of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon – are starting to hit the crush pad. For Cabernet producers on the hillsides, first picking dates are still a few days (and for some more than a week) away. Last week’s warmer temperatures brought a flurry of activity, but cooler conditions over the past few days are giving everyone a much-needed break and the chance to catch their breath in the cellar before gearing up again with activities like pressing, punch-downs and pump-overs. Warmer weather predicted later this week and next will bring another rush of picking throughout Napa Valley’s vineyards. Photo courtesy of Bob McClenahan.