The 2006 California Wine Harvest is under way

Crushpad: San Francisco-based citizen winemaking.

Crushpad: San Francisco-based citizen winemaking.

The Cellar Rat dwells among the tanks and barrels at San Francisco’s CrushPad, where wine retailers, restaurateurs, and wine enthusiasts alike can crush and ferment their own wine.  It’s a great concept, and apparently business for CrushPad has taken off. Imagine seeing your own bottles of “Chateau [insert your name here].”

California’s 2005 bumper crop yielded a record harvest in terms of grape tonnage and dollar value. Because of that, expectations are that this year’s crop will be smaller.  The Cellar Rat thinks that’s the case so far.

Says the Cellar Rat:

“The grapes are ripening, and wineries all over California are getting the first grapes of the year coming in. Harvest for 2006 has begun with Pinot Noir for Sparkling wine in Napa and Sonoma counties, and Sauvignon Blanc in other regions. This first small stream of Pinot Noir for sparkling wine will be followed by a torrent of white grapes, which typically ripen first, followed by the red grape varieties. And it’ll all wrap up mid-November.

There were two defining events for this year’s growing season so far. The first was that the spring was cold and wet, which delayed bud break by a good two weeks in most California vineyards. The second was the record-setting heat spell we had in July. Temperatures as high as 114 deg. F were reported from vineyard managers. You’d almost think this should help get things caught up after that late start but the reality of the situation is that the vines shut down at temps between 95 and 100 deg F. So in reality, this slowed things up even more.”

If the mild weather we’re now experiencing is any indication, then the 2006 harvest appears promising.  We’ve got ideal ripening conditions, which promote desirable sugar levels and perhaps yet another fine season of quality California wines.  Yippee!!

~winehiker

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