Russian River Valley's Sleepless Harvest
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, Calif. — In the Russian River Valley the weather is definitely changing – winds are blowing a bit, the sky is blue and the sun is warm but nights are really beginning to cool down; pretty typical for this time of year. Colors of fall are beginning to peek through the green and leaves are falling through the air and beginning to cover the ground. Driving through vineyards, one sees that harvest is nearly, if not already, complete. And what a harvest it has been—many growers are surely ready for a good night’s sleep.
The 2013 harvest began fast and furious with growers all over Russian River Valley picking earlier than last year. “This has been a very rapid, compressed harvest,” said Jim Pratt from Cornerstone Certified Vineyard. “Tonnages are good, and actually could have been too big had we not learned from last year and thinned early.” Of course, Mother Nature always has a way of keeping growers on their toes… “The September rains were certainly challenging, but shows why you don’t skip scheduled sprays in RRV!” said Jim Pratt.
“The cooler temperatures in August slowed the pace of grape ripening, allowing more time for fruit to mature on the vines. This additional hang time leads to more balanced maturity, creates more complexity of flavors and aromas and gets the acidity, sugar levels and the tannins at the right balance,” said John Bacigalupi of Bacigalupi Vineyards.
“It has been a bountiful harvest in the Russian River Valley, especially for Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. Both varieties have been slow to ripen but quality looks good,” said Tyler Klick of Redwood Empire Vineyard Management.
Overall the consensus is that this year’s grape quality across all varieties is outstanding and as the vines in the valley begin the next phase in their life cycle, the growers and winemakers reflect on another successful harvest in the Russian River Valley and begin the next steps in their quest to create wines that inherently express where they are from.