Whether it’s peace and tranquility that you seek, or total immersion in the winemaking process, there is a season in wine country that will fit your demeanor and desires.
California wine country, from Temecula in the south to Lake County in the north, is in the process of finishing up the 2018 wine grape harvest.
“What a difference a year can make,” Harvest Napa reported on September 11. “A year ago, many winemakers were busy bringing in fruit and keeping up with Mother Nature’s curveballs, while this year’s harvest is quiet.
“Many producers throughout the valley are steadily bringing in Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and the first few bins of red wine. We are still weeks away from harvesting Cabernet Sauvignon as growers are waiting for temperatures and sugar levels to rise.
“If the weather continues this way, we’re in for a beautiful harvest with an abundance of elegant and complex flavors developed through a balanced and even growing season.”
It sounds as if 2018 will be a vintage worth stocking up on once the wines from this harvest season come to market.
So is harvest season a good time to visit wine country? It depends on your expectations.
If you enjoy picking the brains of winemakers at small estates where the vintner also staffs the tasting room most of the year, forget it. They will be too busy monitoring their grapes and overseeing fermentations once those grapes are brought in.
If the size of the estate doesn’t matter and you just want to experience harvest season, there are plenty of wineries up and down the state that will gladly accommodate you while you soak in the breathtaking scenery and heady scents (and dodge the bees!).
Harvest season is a busy time in wine country, so be aware of that and don’t be surprised if you don’t get the one-on-one attention you may enjoy during other times of the year.
The best time to go for a more intimate, less-hurried experience? Spring, hands down.
The cuvees of the previous autumn are resting in barrels or tanks, the grapevines are beginning to bloom as another growing season beckons, and you’re much more likely to encounter a winemaker in a tasting room.
Winter can be a bit dreary, while summer is tourist season, with tasting rooms overrun by visitors. So stick to spring or fall — depending on what you’d like to experience — and your visit to wine country will be pleasant and memorable.