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June Update on the 2017 California Grape Season

A general statement appraising the 2017 crop would be that there is a good crop on the red grapes, but not a bumper year; with the white grapes, especially Chardonnay are showing a lighter crop.  There are a couple of varieties that are an exception- one of them is Montepulciano.  Bunch count is there but the shatter is so great within bunches that it will make for an exceptionally light crop.  


A couple of conditions that have to be assessed may affect production.   One of them is powdery mildew.  It has been seen in some local vineyards on certain varieties and there are some reports that downy mildew may have affected some Coastal Vineyards.  The second issue is the effect of a substantial hail storm that came through Northern California on Sunday June 11.  There are already some published reports of damage in Napa, some talk of damage in the Western District of Lodi and in the Sierra Foothills. 


Winery activity is quiet.  Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc are in very strong demand. Even with the projected light crop on Chardonnay, wineries are still not willing to pay more for them.  Regular Zinfandels, Merlot and Syrah appear to be weak and there are growers who are looking for homes.  Last year there were some Zinfandels that were not harvested.  Most of those were vineyards, whose grapes had previously been raised for White Zinfandel production, and were not grown properly for red wine.  Contracts for good Old Vine Zinfandels are being readily renewed.


With the wet winter and cool spring, the growers are not anticipating an early harvest.  The weather pattern for the summer is anything but predictable.  As mentioned above, it was cold and wet the weekend of June 11th and this weekend there is a triple digit heat wave that will likely extend throughout the next week.  What will happen the following weekend is anybody's guess.  With a cool summer, there will be a late harvest, with a warm summer the harvest will be "Normal".  There also appears to be an historical difference in maturity between Districts.  This is good news in that it spreads out the harvest.

 pinot_grigio 6-16-17 Tracey Foothills
Pinot Grigio from Tracey Foothills (June 16, 2017)

 sangiovese 6-16-17 Tracey Foothills

Sangiovese from Tracey Foothills (June 16, 2017)



 This year our sources will be able to offer Pinot Noir from the Greater Lodi area, in addition to the great Coastal Pinot Noir of years past.  These grapes are produced by an excellent grower and are being raised with extremely limited production per acre to insure great flavors and color.  They are considerably less expensive than the Coastal grapes.  In 2016, the Lodi Pinot Noir was harvest in early August and are anticipated to be ready in the second week of August.  Please contact us, if you have some interest.

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