The Napa Valley Harvest: An Early Assessment

    “Initial reports are finding vintners and growers delighted with 2009 — from Albarino to Zinfandel and everything in-between.”

     So stated a spokesperson for the Napa Valley Vintners Association at a press conference in San Francisco, quoted by Decanter.

     What is behind their collective delight?

     A relatively uneventful harvest, for one thing. There have been no severe weather incidents to provoke early picking as a precaution or fruit damage as a result.

     That said, sugar levels in grapes harvested have been generally lower than in recent years, and crop levels also have been lower.

     Interestingly, not too many vintners are complaining about that. The reason: There’s already plenty of wine in the pipeline from past vintages, and it’s not moving as quickly as normal due to the global financial situation. So, a slight downturn in overall grape tonnage could actually be beneficial as far as the supply chain is concerned.

     What will the lower sugars mean? Not as many “fruit bombs” as in past years, since less sugar equates with lower alcohol levels, and lower alcohol equates with a more elegant style of wine.

     Keep in mind, however, that the quote at the top of this post involved a general assessment. It would be impossible to provide an accurate harvest portrayal of the entire Napa Valley because the valley embodies so many microclimates. Conditions on the valley floor are virtually guaranteed to be quite different than in the mountain vineyards.

     We’ll know a lot more about Napa Valley Harvest 2009 a few months down the road, when the fermentation process is completed and the new wines are safely tucked away in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks for aging.

     Meanwhile, you can read the full Decanter report here:

Posted in Wine Buzz
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