There has been a recent heat wave in California with temperatures reaching above 100°F (37.7°C) in Napa and Sonoma Counties, which has resulted in accelerated ripeness.
Jeff Smith of Hourglass Wines spoke to Wine-Searcher: “People get a little wiggy about heat, especially with global warming as the backdrop. The heat we had a couple weeks ago worked to our favour because of the timing.”
Smith also explained that: ‘The scorching days in the beginning of July came before most vines in the area went through veraison, which meant that the growth of the vines themselves slowed down. However, the berries that will eventually become $150 cabernets were unaffected’.
There are fears that another heat wave at the end of the month would be bad, as sugar accumulation would increase without phenolic development. Currently, however, temperatures have decreased.
Logistically, large wineries will need to organise facilities so that they have tanks to ferment a crop that’s due sooner than usual.
Sparkling wine producers always harvest first, Mumm Napa might start as early as July 22, making it one of their earliest harvests ever.
“The crop looks good and healthy at this point, with yields slightly above average,” says Mumm Napa winemaker Ludovic Dervin.
Speculations have also been made stating that yields could be huge like last year, so much so, that big wineries like E. & J. Gallo are looking to rent tank space to move red wines that haven’t yet been bottled. Smith says it’s not an issue for smaller vintners, who don’t have a complicated schedule for use of their facilities.
“I know everybody tries to go out and do early projections on when they’re going to pick and how big their crop is going to be,” Smith explains. “For the big corporate guys, that’s important. For the little guys, we don’t worry so much about that.”
Such large yields might result in a price decrease for consumers.