Harvest Reports for the Holidays: Sierra Foothills, Lodi and Madera

We continue our series of reports on the California winegrape harvest…


Bill Easton, winemaker and winegrower for Terre Rouge & Easton Wines, offers these comments from Gold Country:

“This has been a very strange, difficult, sometimes frustrating, and unusual year. Fortunately, most of the resulting wines have been made from grapes where very good flavors have developed.

“Yields were down. Staying on top of your vineyards made a big difference this year. Our mountain fruit harvested from four Sierra Foothills counties (Placer, El Dorado, Amador and Calaveras) was physiologically ripe at lower sugar and potential alcohol levels, and retained good natural acidity in most instances. The resulting wines have great elegance and balance.

“Spring rains lasted in California until June 1, affecting fruit set. Summer was mostly very cool, but in late August there was hot weather that damaged some non-shaded clusters, particularly on head-trained vines. The clusters were at a fragile and susceptible state of development because of late flowering and delayed development from the cool summer.

“Harvest began late with Sauvignon Blanc on September 15, and red grapes starting the week of September 26. There was a bit of rain on October 3 and then significant rain – near 4 inches – October 22-25. There was a frost in lower cold vineyard spots on October 27.

“Zinfandel, more susceptible to bunch rot, was mostly harvested prior to the large rain. Late ripening Syrah and Mourvedre were harvested in mid-November.”


Michael Phillips, co-owner/director of winemaking for Michael-David Winery, provides these observations on one of California’s underrated wine regions:

“This was a phenomenal vintage for Lodi. The cooler summer created very balanced grapes and wine. We got through the August heat spell without any major issues, as we irrigated and kept the canopy shading the sunny side of the vines. There was some shatter in the spring, which lowered the crop level.

“Tonnage varied by variety. Syrah was lighter and Zinfandel was heavier than normal. We were done with harvest by the time it rained in October, and all the fruit was in great shape. It was a consolidated season, from the beginning of September extending to the end of October. Lodi will be a shining star of California’s 2010 vintage.”


Comments and observations from Michael Blaylock, winemaker at Quady Winery:

“Spring and grapevine bud-break gave all indications that 2010 was going to be a very normal growing season in Madera County. Veraison told another story.

“Reviewing 17 years of accumulated data from Quady Winery, veraison in our Muscat vineyards proved to be the second latest ever. This, of course, translated to a harvest that was a full two weeks later than normal, and pushed the white and early grape harvest into somewhat crazy scheduling conflicts with the deliveries of red grapes at the crusher. Work schedules really were 24/7 for everyone.

“All things considered, there was a ‘silver lining’ in that the longer, slower growing season resulted in grapes that developed incredible aromas and flavors with outstanding acid and pH levels.”

Tomorrow: Reports from Santa Barbara, Paso Robles and Monterey.

Posted in Wine Region Profiles
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