The harvest season is underway in the Niagara region of Ontario, and that’s good news for vintners on both sides of the border.
Because the area’s marginal climate can turn cold at anytime, and in the past, that has necessitated picking grapes earlier than would be desired. Grapes that are not fully ripened produce wines that are not as flavorful.
But this year, desired ripening has been reached much earlier than usual, and farmers and vintners are taking advantage of the situation by harvesting those grapes and crushing them in preparation for fermentation.
In particular, the early harvest is a boon to producers of Bordeaux and Burgundy varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, whose wines often project a mild vegetal quality due to not attaining full ripeness. For vintage 2010, that vegetal characteristic should be replaced by brighter fruit flavors – much more enjoyable for a wine drinker, who’d rather get his liquid veggies from V8.
According to Decanter, an early spring in the province resulted in early budbreak on many vines, giving the fruit plenty of time to develop. Positive conditions throughout the summer resulted in one of the smoothest, trouble-free growing seasons on record in Niagara.
The climatic news is good even for the region’s famous “late harvest” wines. Even if those grapes are picked earlier than usual, they are expected to have attained the high sugar levels necessary for making those acclaimed dessert-style wines.