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GIFFT By Kathy Lee Gifford

Jennifer Evans
 
September 27, 2017 | Jennifer Evans

Harvest 2017 – Many Highs So Far… Literally

After winter rains throughout the state put an end to years of drought, temperate weather patterns produced ideal grape growing conditions in Monterey County. At the beginning of harvest, the crop outlook seemed to be slightly lower in volume compared to years past, although quality was high. We kicked off the season with sparkling grapes in early August, with still grapes following just a few weeks behind. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon all ripened slowly and evenly with persistent warm temperatures through the end of the month.

Then September arrived with a bang. The record-setting heat wave of 100+ temperatures across the state and throughout Monterey County caused spikes in some areas that were 25 degrees above average, compared to previous years. With these high temperatures motivating our vineyard teams, harvest kicked into high gear. Minor “sunburn” could be seen on some grapes and in the canopies, but, for the most part, the heat helped increase sugar content and intensify flavors.

Fortunately, mild temperatures throughout the rest of September helped preserve grape quality. When the temperatures dropped again, so did the sugar levels. In Monterey County, our ranch managers are accustomed to these types of fluctuations, and they know that being patient and not picking before the flavors have fully developed is key.

The Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc harvests are complete, while Chardonnay will wrap up by the end of September. Merlot is next, then the harvest of the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes will complete this year of very high highs, but not too many lows. Harvest should be finished by the end of October, or the first week in November.

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