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Monterey County Moves Ahead of Schedule: Wine Grape Harvest Begins

August 04, 2014


Gone are the concerning questions that plagued early 2014 regarding the drought’s potential negative impact on Monterey County’s wine grape crop. Local growers are gearing up for an early harvest and from their reports; it looks very promising, both in quality and quantity.

Bud break came early in 2014, about a month to two weeks depending upon location, and that timeline remains consistent for harvest. Although the growing season’s timeline has shifted, the length has remained the same, allowing the grapes to develop more intense flavor, color and complexity.

Champagne varietals are underway at Caraccioli Cellars, who started picking the week of July 21. “We haven’t picked in July since 2006, our progress has been ahead this whole season,” Scott Caraccioli, vice president of sales and marketing, explains. Newcomers to the sparkling game, Holman Ranch, also began harvest this past weekend.

Next up for Monterey County will be Pinot Grigio/Gris followed closely by Pinot Noir. Moderate summer temperatures have been a benefit throughout the county, and though rare, a higher humidity hasn’t seemed to hinder. According to Matt Shea, vineyard manager for Bernardus Winery, “Barring any unforeseen cooling trends, we should be picking our Bordeaux varieties a month earlier than normal.”

Any possible challenges of the 2014 harvest season will be the same as any other, harvesting at the optimal time. Both quality and quantity look promising for the 2014 vintage, it will be a matter of logistics, balancing the reds harvested early (Pinots and Merlots) with those harvested a bit later (Cabs and Zins) while also managing the ongoing bottling and crush at the wineries.

Will we see yields as sizeable as 2013? Jason Smith of Paraiso/Alexander-Smith fills us in, “The vintage may not be as big as 2013, but will still be a very good average yield. Continuation of normal Monterey weather with early morning marine layer, moderate temps and gentle breeze will ensure harvest is a great one.” Caraccioli echoes that sentiment, “Most would expect after 2012 and 2013 to have a more drastic fallback in size, but this vintage is still looking to be an average plus yield.”

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