Wine grapes show promise after cool summer, hot fall

September 28, 2010 7:49:46 PM PDT
One of the coolest summers on record followed by hot fall temperatures could create a winning combination for grape growers in the Livermore Valley. Some winemakers say the longer those grapes sit on the vine, the better the flavor.

"Mother nature is trying our patience," Concannon Winery winemaker Jim Ryan of Concannon Winery said.

Although they have had to wait, Ryan says all those grapes still on the vine are just getting better. A cooler than normal summer coupled with the recent record heat is producing some of the most flavorful grapes in some time.

"Right now I think the sugar levels are developing really well and they are calling for cooler days that will put everything into place which will allow us to harvest," Ryan said.

This year's harvest is about three weeks behind due to the cool weather. But that is not all bad, the longer the berry stays on the vine, the more sugar it produces resulting in better taste. Add a little heat wave and the fruit ripens faster.

"It went from last week, 'OK, we want to pick, we want to go to,' this week full-blown, 'How many trucks can we get in the door,'" Karl Wente of Wente Vineyards said.

Before grapes are picked winemakers first test the juice for sugar content, also known as the brix, a sugar level that is measured in degrees.

"For harvest time for Petit Syrah anywhere from 24-25.5, but I know it will tumble down a little bit so we should harvest this grape next Monday or Tuesday," Julian Halasz of Concannon Winery said.

Wineries have done some harvesting already but expect production to gear up in the next few days, which means a little more time to sweeten up and produce a great bouquet over time.


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