While some California growers started harvesting their 2017 winegrapes about a month ago, here at Côte West, we're waiting patiently for the perfect moment to arrive.
Since our grapes grow in the cooler regions of California’s North Coast, our harvest occurs later in the season. A sure sign that the grapes are almost ready is a process called veraison, where they change from green to deep purple, as seen above on our Pinot Noir grapes from Petaluma Gap on August 10.
The process of veraison takes about a week and once it's complete, set your watch, because harvest is typically 30-40 days out. This puts us at about one week later than last year’s harvest, so by mid September we’ll be busy!
As for how the grapes are looking, it's generally pretty good. After 5 consecutive years of drought, California experienced record rainfall last winter. Conventional wisdom suggested this would lead to bountiful yields in the vineyards, however, other weather patterns got in the way of record-setting yields.
In June, there was massive amount of hail and rain, right as bloom and berry set was occurring, which affected the fruit. That was followed by a couple of severe heat spells where temperatures exceeded 100 degrees F for several days early in the growing season.
What does that mean for our grapes (and the wine to come)? Overall, average bunch count and size is down, so the grape harvest is expected to be high in quality, with good, but slightly lower than average yields.