Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley kick off this harvest season with a positive forecast amidst California’s ongoing drought.
HEALDSBURG, Calif. – AUGUST 18 – Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley (WDCV) expect the 2015 winegrape harvest to yield exceptional quality fruit in smaller quantities than the last three vintages, which were larger than normal throughout most of the state of California. Picking began earlier than usual this year, with David Coffaro Estate and Amista Vineyards harvesting grapes for their sparkling wines on July 29 and August 3, respectively. In 2014, Amista Vineyards harvested for their blanc de blanc two days later on August 5.
For still wines, many white grapes have already become ripe for picking. Preston Farm and Winery began harvesting sauvignon blanc on Tuesday, August 11. Pedroncelli Winery will harvest their sauvignon blanc this week. “This is within a few days of last year’s harvest,” says Montse Reece, winemaker at Pedroncelli Winery.
Cameron Mauritson, Manager of Mauritson Farms and President of the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley, anticipates starting to harvest in the middle of August, about 10-14 days ahead of last year. “We have been blessed with wonderful California weather that has sped things up. The crop looks beautiful with looser clusters than normal and small berries that should yield robust flavors. Winemakers should have the weather patterns to produce stylistic wines,” he says.
Ridge Vineyards reported their earliest zinfandel harvest on record in their East Bench Vineyard. “The dry, warm weather we had from February through April led to a very early bloom and thus the record start to the harvest,” says Will Thomas, Ridge Vineyards’ Sonoma County Viticulturist.
The harvest season will continue for the next two months, with the harvest of Bordeaux varieties including merlot and cabernet sauvignon in September and late-ripening grapes like mourvedre grapes and late-harvest zinfandel in October.
Several years of drought in California affected farmers all over the state, but Dry Creek Valley winegrowers seize the opportunity to learn from the challenges they face. Mauritson explains, “The drought has been an opportunity for many growers to look closely at their soil health and make sure they are maximizing the available water holding capacity of the vineyard site so vines can survive as long as possible by natural rainfall.”
Tim Bell, winemaker at Dry Creek Vineyard, says that last year at the winery’s Endeavour Vineyard, they cut back on the number of vine shoots and grape clusters to reduce water demand, but were pleased to find out that they could get by with even less water than they planned for.
Despite the resilience of the grapes and their growers, many expressed hope for some relief from the drought. “We’re praying that the El Niño predictions for a wet winter play out in the right way: plenty of rain spread out over time and cold enough storms to pack the Sierras with snow,” says Bell.
About Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley
The Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley® (WDCV) is an association of more than 60 wineries and 150 growers, of which more than 95 percent are small, family-owned operations. WDCV is dedicated to advancing the recognition, enhancement and preservation of Dry Creek Valley as a premium winegrowing region. Anchored by the charming town of Healdsburg, the Dry Creek Valley appellation was officially designated in 1983. Known as a premier zinfandel growing region, Dry Creek Valley is one of California’s oldest wine producing regions and is home to many heritage vineyards ranging in age from 50 to 120 years. To preserve this history and the valley’s pristine beauty, the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley supports sustainable viticulture and low-impact farming practices. www.drycreekvalley.org/