October 12 Update
In very general terms this is how things are looking: Bordeaux is shouting that 2015 may be the best since 2010 (especially on the right bank). Yields seem to be on par while the cool nights of the growing season has given optimal pH levels for many growers.
Burgundy is spotty but there will be some outstanding wines made albeit in smaller quantities. Ditto for the Rhone. Alsace has seen good crop numbers and incredible ripeness that may impact the sterling acidity levels that so many Alsace wine lovers prize.
In California the general assessment is that the quality of the fruit is high while the volume is rather low. This is very distressing to the smaller, boutique producers who generally make small lots of wine. For many of these producers that will be faced with producing half of what they had in 2014.
This is the time of year that the Northern Hemisphere winemakers harvest their crops and create the wines of the vintage. It’s a clear reminder that wine is of the earth, an agricultural product that demands constant care, sweat, and even blood.
For the typical wine lover it’s a magical time of year shaded by romance and the promise of the new vintage. Most of us who write about wine feel the same way.
It’s important to remember that for many in the business the harvest can make or break their fortunes, at least in the short term. Craig Camp, the managing partner at Napa Valley’s Cornerstone Cellars describes the harvest from a vintner’s point of view. “Harvest is many things: inspiring, rewarding, fulfilling, exciting, meaningful, exhausting, but it one thing it isn’t is fun. At least not if it’s your life and your living.”
Here is the first install meant of harvest news from the 2015 vintage. More to come through October.
USA – West Coast 2015 Harvest
Oregon and Washington are both looking at equaling or bettering their positive crop totals from last year. Thus far the quality of this large crop looks to be better than average as well.
California on whole had an early harvest. Wine growers were of two minds as you never want rain when you pick but their minds were also on the California wildfires where rain is obviously a positive thing.
In Napa much of the valley floor is picked and in some cases in barrel. Some of the hillside vineyards are still being watched and the harvest in these locations is expected to be complete in the coming weeks.
Italy 2015 Harvest
Italian winemakers from north to south are optimistic at this stage. High July temperature were broken with moderating temps and a bit of rain in August. Despite the general optimism the reality is that some will likely have a vintage to remember while others will have a challenging vintage. Hopefully no one will experience a disaster.
France 2015 Harvest
Vines across France have had to contend with a heatwave similar to that seen in 2003 in recent weeks.
Bordeaux – September rains have been near average for the month while much greater than 2014. Luckily the grapes in most areas are healthy so the occurrence of rot or ruptured fruit has been minimal. The dry whites have all been harvested and the reds will continue to be harvested in the coming weeks.
Burgundy – Cool nights and warm days in August and September may have rescued the 2015 harvest in Burgundy – some are feeling more optimistic. Overall the yields are lower perhaps 30 to 40% off of last year’s totals. The white wines have shown less acidity than desired while the reds may be right on target. As always, success will vary from appellation to appellation and vineyard to vineyard.
Chablis – In Chablis the news is far from rosy as August departed with a hail storm that diminished yields greatly. Until that point the acidity looked ideal and the fruit was healthy. The harvest is complete – more to come…
Spain 2015 Harvest
Rioja – María José López de Heredia, at Vina Tondonia, said the harvest at her estate in Haro, Rioja Alta, should be two weeks early. She added it was too soon to discuss vintage quality.
Other famous estates in the region are also reporting that this year’s harvest is about two weeks ahead of average.
An inside look at Catalonia is coming next week.