For grape growers throughout Sonoma Valley and the rest of Wine Country, the story is the same: This year’s dry but easygoing weather has yielded an early, excellent crop.
“We’re very blessed to have the weather that we’ve had the last three months. I mean, we’ve had a perfect growing year,” said David Cook, who besides being a Sonoma City Council member runs Cook Vineyard Management.
According to Cook, “We’re about two weeks ahead of a normal year in the harvest,” meaning his employees probably will start picking pinot noir grapes around Aug. 25, and chardonnay grapes a couple days after that.
Cabernet sauvignon grapes are also on the early side, with an expected harvest date of around Sept. 20, Cook said.
Ned Hill of La Prenda Vineyards Management agreed that 2014 is serving up an early, but very high quality, harvest. He cited moderate weather conditions leading to sweet and strong fruits on the vine.
“We had virtually no frost in the springtime,” Hill said. “We’ve had virtually no heat spikes. These thunder storms the last few weeks, although very odd, have not caused any problems.”
As a result, Hill said he began harvesting sparkling wine grapes as early as Aug. 4. “That’s the earliest that I’ve ever started picking,” he said.
Hill added that this year, when it comes to quantity, “We’re still trying to figure that out.”
“On paper, it looks like we’ve got a solid average to average-plus year,” Hill explained. But in the fields, the picked bunches are “coming out light, and in some cases quite light.”
“This year might be a year where we have plenty of clusters, however they don’t weigh very much,” Hill said.
Whatever comes, “It’s been a really good year for us so far. One of the best years we’ve had,” Cook said. “But we still want the rain.”