It seems like 2017 will go down as another wild ride for grape growers and vintners. On Tuesday, September 26, 2017, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) hosted the 2017 Napa Valley Harvest Press Conference, which provided a comprehensive discussion of the growing season and issues affecting Napa Valley vineyards during the 2017 Harvest.
According to Rory Williams, assistant vineyard manager and assistant winemaker at Frog’s Leap Winery in Napa Valley, the winter was the wettest in 30 years and the third wettest in 100 years. The additional rain may have helped vineyards during the early September record heat. Mr. Williams commented that Rutherford recorded 114 degrees. During intense heat such as this one, grape vines stay alive by accessing water either from the grapes or, when possible, from the soil, Williams said. The winter rain helped bring soil moisture back up, allowing the vines to draw some of that water from the ground. This gave the grapes a little protection, leaving the grapes less damaged than they would have been otherwise.
Compared with the previous two vintages. In 2016, harvest came in incredibly early. Though vintners are harvesting about 10 days to two weeks later than last year, it’s still not considered a late harvest by any means. In 2015, temperatures stayed hot and harvest was relatively small. This year has seen many early-ripening varieties like Pinot Noir and Tempranillo begin harvest at the end of August, with late ripening varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah expected to remain on the vine until September or October. Grape yields and clusters look about average.
Although it is too early to know how this vintage will fare in the long term, it does show some promise with acids being a little lower and fruit color is more stable than it has been in the last couple of years.