This past Friday I was attending a little post-harvest  celebration with “the wife” where I had the opportunity to meet the guy who does grape sourcing for her company, I’m assuming for many of the brands.  Anyhow, he was chatting with the general manager and winemaker from “the wife’s” winery and was telling us about some of the growers’s situations.  This year has been a rough one, if you’ve read the papers or some of my earlier posts about the weather you may have already heard it has been challenging.

My Spring post: http://norcalwingman.com/2010/05/27/what-happens-when-grapes-get-wet-feet

A follow up regarding the cool Summer: http://norcalwingman.com/2010/08/03/what-good-is-a-bunch-of-cold-grapes.

So, this sourcing manager was recounting a story about a vineyard that got a touch of the first frost of the Autumn (this last Wednesday).  The canopy of the grapevines were completely wiped out, and the grapes were shy of harvesting level brix.  Without leaves, the grapevines can’t continue pumping sugar into the fruit.  That’s bad news for growers, because without enough sugar in the grapes, their crop is worthless.

I rarely think about this aspect of wine.  I’m usually on the final destination side (yep killing wine by pouring it down my gullet).  Imagine spending an entire growing season, fully expecting to sell your crop after tending to it for a full year.  Caring for the vineyard, by minding the soil pH, checking for and removing pests, pampering and optimizing each and every vine, all for nothing.  Every dollar that was pumped into making the grapes grow, spent and gone, with the assumption that you could sell it, even having a contract that assuring you that you would have someone to buy it.

Here are some articles from local media sources talking about the funky year:
(Harvest Starts)  http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20100828/ARTICLES/100829453
(Coastal Fog Affecting Growers)  http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20100806/news/8061043
(Rain Stalls Harvest) http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20101021/BUSINESS/101029864/1350?Title=Weekend-storms-will-stall-grape-harvest-

Anyhow, harvest is over here in Sonoma County.   I’m sure some growers may be picking their hanging fruit, hoping that the sugar is somewhere in the acceptable range, but after a full week of rain and cold, I’d say there isn’t much hope for them.  I’m going to try and get out to interview some more winemakers and growers to see how the season turned out for them.  I’ll try and talk to some viticulturists too and see if we can get some insight into what impact this year may have on next year’s growing season.

But now, I’m going to pop open a bottle of the stuff we all love, and toast the growers who are affected by this FREAKY 2010 season, may next year bring better luck and prosperity!

Cheers and Happy Halloween from The Norcal Wingman!

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