Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Season's Greetings: Veraison '09

Sign of the Times: Pinot Noir clusters in Carneros have begun coloring (called veraison), a significant milestone in the winegrape growing season. Three grower-vintners weigh in with progress reports....

All photographs and quotes taken Tuesday, July 21st, 2009.

Amelia Ceja provided the photo above. "Our Pinot Noir vineyard on Las Amigas Road has pinkish and red clusters already. It’s exciting!" Photo courtesy of Ceja Vineyards

Remi Cohen reports, "the Pinot Noir at our Stanly Ranch Estate is at about 30% veraison. Photo courtesy of Merryvale Vineyards

These Pinot Noir clusters from Foster Road Ranch - located just north of the Stanly Lane pumpkin patch - are farther along than most. Toby Halkovich explains, "Foster Road Ranch is on a hill which may account for this site being ahead of the other Pinot Noir vineyards in Carneros from which we buy." Photo courtesy Cakebread Cellars

Q: How does this compare to other years?
A: "The time between bloom and veraison is about 7-14 days shorter than previous years for our Carneros Pinot Noir and upvalley Sauvignon Blanc," says Halkovich.

What about other varieties?
A: "The Chardonnay in Carneros is going slowly and veraison has not really started. We see Merlot and a few Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards upvalley just beginning to color (berry here and there) but no real trend yet for those varieties," according to Halkovich. Cohen concurs, "Although we have seen veraison in some of our Bordeaux varieties, it is still a small percentage of berries. But this is the first hurdle....harvest is coming!"

You can read Napa Valley's 2008 Harvest Report by clicking here...or read short season summaries going back to 1990 by clicking here.