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IT’S TIME FOR WINE
by
Monty and Sara Preiser
August 11, 2013
NAPA VALLEY GRAPEGROWERS ASSOCIATION REPORTS
ON THE 2013 HARVEST
Most of those receiving our column do not have the opportunity to read press releases periodically sent out by the varying industry trade associations. One of the most interesting groups on an ongoing basis is the Napa Valley Grapegrowers. Rather than babble and self- congratulate like some other associations, the NVG puts out facts that keep us reading and instruct us on the state of the vine, so to speak. Below are excerpts from the August 7, 2013, press release as sparsely edited by us, but only for ease of reading.
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General:
The Napa Valley harvest, which is now underway, is forecast to be of average yield but high quality. Medium rainfall levels, a warm Spring, and a heat wave in late June/early July, are producing smaller berries and loose clusters – signals of high quality. Valley-wide, harvest is taking place 10 to 14 days earlier than 2012.
Weather:
-Though rainfall has been average for the season, minimal rain and a warm Spring forced grape growers to use a variety of viticultural practices to mitigate heat damage, including:
-Early Spring irrigation and, during the heat wave, afternoon watering. The latter was accomplished by micro-sprinkling and pulse watering to allow careful water management;
-Less canopy management (allowing natural shade and dappled sunlight), and the use of shade cloth to protect the grapes in their early growth stages; and
-Early “suckering” (a “sucker” is a clone of the mother plant that grows from a root far from the plant’s base) to remove unwanted growth.
-July 2013 was the warmest Napa July since 2003.
-April 2013 was seven degrees warmer than 2012. It was almost as warm as 1997, which produced a fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon vintage.
-The weather helped cause much uniformity throughout the growing season (uniform bloom and uniform harvest), which is key to a good vintage.
Demand for Napa Valley Grapes:
-2012 harvest value was over $650 million.
-2012 average ton was valued at $3,500.
-2012 average ton of Cabernet Sauvignon was valued at $5,000.
-There is a worldwide concern following the discovery of “Red Blotch,” a virus that appears to reduce the Brix levels of infected vines. Napa Valley grapegrowers, ever vigilant (our comment) test for the virus before planting to ensure they are planting “clean” vines.
-Current replanting echoes the replanting of the 1980s, forcing a decrease in supply in the short term.
-Demand for Napa Valley grapes, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, remains high. All 2013 grapes have been sold.
Technology:
-Many vineyards are equipping vineyard managers and supervisors with iPads, which allows:
-Broad sharing of information, once held only by vineyard senior staff and the winemaking team;
-the Pad’s camera to send immediate, geo-tagged photos of areas of concern, which then allowing immediate action; and
-Fun pictures, like a major brand delivery truck getting ‘stuck’ in a vineyard.
Labor:
-There were minimal shortages this Spring. In fact, labor shortages are being eliminated since grape growing is now a nearly year round enterprise.
-Napa is the only county in California to assess all growers. The money raised has been used to build three farmworker centers, where individuals benefit from lodging, meals, laundry, and recreational amenities.
-The Napa Valley Grapegrowers Farmworker Education Foundation (the only one of its kind in the nation) has educated over 4,000 farmworkers through programs stressing quality in the vineyard, safety, and personal success tools such as financial advice and information on various community services.
Our final comment: Everyone out here is already salivating over the 2012 vintage, and it looks as if we may get a stunner right on its heels.
 
 
NAPA VALLEY GRAPEGROWERS ASSOCIATION REPORTS ON THE 2013 HARVEST
 
Below are excerpts from the August 7, 2013, press release from the Napa Valley Grape Growers Association as sparsely edited by the Preisers: 
 
General:
The Napa Valley harvest, which is now underway, is forecast to be of average yield but high quality. Medium rainfall levels, a warm Spring, and a heat wave in late June/early July, are producing smaller berries and loose clusters – signals of high quality. Valley-wide, harvest is taking place 10 to 14 days earlier than 2012.
 
 Weather:
-Though rainfall has been average for the season, minimal rain and a warm Spring forced grape growers to use a variety of viticultural practices to mitigate heat damage, including:
-Early Spring irrigation and, during the heat wave, afternoon watering. The latter was accomplished by micro-sprinkling and pulse watering to allow careful water management;
-Less canopy management (allowing natural shade and dappled sunlight), and the use of shade cloth to protect the grapes in their early growth stages; and
-Early “suckering” (a “sucker” is a clone of the mother plant that grows from a root far from the plant’s base) to remove unwanted growth.
-July 2013 was the warmest Napa July since 2003.
 -April 2013 was seven degrees warmer than 2012. It was almost as warm as 1997, which produced a fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon vintage.
 -The weather helped cause much uniformity throughout the growing season (uniform bloom and uniform harvest), which is key to a good vintage.
 
Demand for Napa Valley Grapes:
-2012 harvest value was over $650 million.
 -2012 average ton was valued at $3,500.
 -2012 average ton of Cabernet Sauvignon was valued at $5,000.
 -There is a worldwide concern following the discovery of “Red Blotch,” a virus that appears to reduce the Brix levels of infected vines. Napa Valley grapegrowers, ever vigilant (our comment) test for the virus before planting to ensure they are planting “clean” vines.
 -Current replanting echoes the replanting of the 1980s, forcing a decrease in supply in the short term.
 -Demand for Napa Valley grapes, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, remains high. All 2013 grapes have been sold. 
  
Technology:
-Many vineyards are equipping vineyard managers and supervisors with iPads, which allows:       
-Broad sharing of information, once held only by vineyard senior staff and the winemaking team;
-the Pad’s camera to send immediate, geo-tagged photos of areas of concern, which then allowing immediate action; and
-Fun pictures, like a major brand delivery truck getting ‘stuck’ in a vineyard.
  
Labor:
-There were minimal shortages this Spring. In fact, labor shortages are being eliminated since grape growing is now a nearly year round enterprise.
 -Napa is the only county in California to assess all growers. The money raised has been used to build three farmworker centers, where individuals benefit from lodging, meals, laundry, and recreational amenities.
 -The Napa Valley Grapegrowers Farmworker Education Foundation (the only one of its kind in the nation) has educated over 4,000 farmworkers through programs stressing quality in the vineyard, safety, and personal success tools such as financial advice and information on various community services.
 
 
Our final comment: Everyone out here is already salivating over the 2012 vintage, and it looks as if we may get a stunner right on its heels.