Many of Monterey Wine Country’s vineyards recently pulled in the last of their grapes as the busy harvest season wound down to a close. Winemakers and vineyard managers across the region’s nine American Viticulture Areas agree that the quality and flavor concentration in grapes from the 2012 vintage are extremely high.
Jason Smith, Valley Farm Management and Grower Chair for the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association (MCVGA) said of the 2012 vintage: “Overall, it was a nice moderate year. Mother Nature cooperated, the growing season was long, and the grapes matured well. We were able to have a nice average crop with great quality! This was a nice change after the challenges of 2011.”
While several grape-growing counties across the state battled early rains that threatened rot and crop loss, Monterey County fruit went virtually unaffected, with rains averaging only one-tenth of an inch. As the storm passed Monterey County, Steve McIntyre of Monterey Pacific said, “Once again the Santa Lucia Mountain rain shadow has saved the day! We seldom get much out of these northern storms and such was the case with this one – a tenth of an inch was our highest reading. Actually, we were still running the water truck the following day for dust control.”
Andy Mitchell of Hahn Winery concurred: “The recent rain events here in Monterey County have been relatively light when compared to other parts of the State, both north and south of us. A few picks have had to be rescheduled as a direct result of rain, and the cooler temperatures associated with the storm systems have pushed back some scheduled harvests due to Brix levels dropping. But as far as any added pressure of botrytis caused by the rains, we are not finding this a problem.”
From an economic standpoint, the region is seeing similar trends to those of 2011, when wine grapes sold at an increased price-per-ton average across all major varietals. According to the County’s 2011 Crop Report, of the leading ten grape varieties (five white and five red), nine sold at an increase of several percentage points from 2010 to 2011. Local growers hope to see that trend continue to boost the region’s economy.
“I’ve been watching Monterey County harvests for ten years now,” said Rhonda Motil, Executive Director for the MCVGA. “Low yields, fine weather, and long hang times will put this vintage up in the realm of the best I’ve witnessed thus far.”
Bringing together the talents and resources of its members, partners and the community, the MCVGA promotes and supports their leadership in the art, science and business of wine. Founded in 1974, the Association is a non-profit organization representing over 75 vintners and growers in Monterey, California. Additional details are available by visiting www.montereywines.org or by calling (831) 375-9400.