Harvest 2018 has come and gone and it was a fantastic time of year for a Napa winery tour or a Sonoma winery tour. Visitors from around California and the world were greeted with a buzz of activity from the exciting sights of grapes coming in off of trucks to watching them get crushed in the bladder presses. Some winery tours even got a little dirty, helping with punch downs and other hands-on winemaking fun!
For this year’s harvest, the Napa wineries and Sonoma wineries had similar vintages characterized by an unseasonably cool late summer with a dry and warm fall with the growing season starting a little later than usual. Surprisingly, the wine country tours in Napa were greeted with a very small amount of rain this season with only one day of significant precipitation.
Along with the educational and tasting tours, both local and international workers descended on the valley in great numbers to help with the large amount of grapes being brought in. From the Russian River wineries, to the Healdsburg wineries, to the Alexander Valley wineries and beyond, the crews were busy tending to an above average-sized harvest. The vintage was characterized by higher yields-up to 20% or more in some places. Much of the fruit hung on the vines until October, unlike some hot years past where Napa wineries and Sonoma wineries had fruit all gone by August.
This year grapes started being harvested in August (with grapes for sparkling wine being first), a much more typical time. In fact, in some recent years a few Sonoma wineries and Napa wineries had the problem of having many vineyards ripen at nearly the same time, causing a crunch for time to process the grapes and a shortage of tank space to start fermentations. Fortunately for this vintage the winemakers had different blocks become ready to pick at separate times so there was no rush or pressure to clear tanks quickly. Some claimed it to be one of their best years for both volume and grape quality with a few comparing it to the famous 2012 vintage.
These Sonoma wine tours and Napa wine tours had great fun and even better weather for their experiences. There’s nothing quite like the Napa Valley and Sonoma wineries in the fall, but winter is also a great time to come see wine country too! Be sure to contact us this winter, or anytime for your next northern California wine tour!