Harvest Reports for the Holidays: Mendocino, Santa Cruz Mountains and Livermore Valley


David Brutocao, winemaker for Brutocao Cellars, offers this report:

“A cold, wet spring brought a late start to the growing season. Summer in Hopland was warm, but not as hot as normal. We did not experience anywhere near the amount of morning fog and cool temperatures as in other North Coast regions, so we did not have to pull leaves to the same extent to open the vines to the sun. When the heat spike hit in August, we did not experience sun damage to our crop.

“Yields in most varieties were as good or better than in 2009, particularly in Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. End of October rains extended harvest into November, with Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon riding through the rain. The Zinfandel made it through in good condition, as did most of the Cabernet. The fruit had good acid and pH, with rich, intense flavors and colors.”


Cheryl Murphy Durzy, proprietor/vice president of Clos LaChance, provides this perspective:

“Optimal temperatures during bloom and fruit set brought on an above-average crop load, but a mild summer pushed harvest as much as a month late in some varieties. Most vineyards had to be crop thinned to promote even maturation in almost all varieties. The fear that late-season grape varieties might not reach full maturity was curbed when mid-80 to low-90-degree weather engulfed the early to mid part of October.

“Quality has shown to be up across the board due to the extended maturation period and extended hang time in all vineyards and varieties. Large cluster varieties like Grenache and Zinfandel have shown extremely low yields, while Merlot, Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc yields are higher than average.

“Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are showing higher acids and lower sugar levels, making for much more elegant and stylistic wines with greater potential for aging than usual. Late season cooling and rain made for perfect storage conditions on the vine, while the last of the Cabernet was harvested at optimal maturity.

“All in all, above average quality and yields resulted, with exceptional lots coming out of the Santa Cruz Mountains Bordeaux and Burgundy varietals.


A report from Jim Ryan, vice president of operations for Concannon Vineyards:

“This year’s harvest was a little trying for the winemakers in the Livermore Valley, with crazy weather patterns but some of the highest acid levels I have seen from a California crush. At the end of the day, it’s going to make a very well balanced, great bottle of wine.

“Mother Nature makes sure that when she gives up something great, we usually have to work for it.”

Tomorrow: Reports from the Sierra Foothills, Lodi and Madera.

Posted in Wine Region Profiles
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