Grape growers optimistic about this year's crop


"It's been a cool year, but the vines have adapted, they haven't set much crops so they'll have an easier time getting the crops perfectly ripe," Stagecoach Vineyards owner Jan Krupp said.

Krupp says the late rains and full spring interrupted the blooming process this year. The grapes did not have a chance to go through the normal fertilization process, which means fewer berries.

The bottom line is wine lovers will have a smaller crop this year. Fortunately, that will not compromise the quality.

"When you have sort of a slow warming, a gradual warming, the flavors and sugars develop at the same time so when you're ready to harvest, everything is right where it should be," Napa Valley Grapegrowers President David Beckstoffer said.

Because the maturity and ripening process of the grapes started late, this year's harvest will get a late start.

Beckstoffer told reporters at the annual harvest media briefing there have been some bad years for Napa Valley grape growers. They've been hit hard by the economic downturn.

"People haven't been purchasing wine; wineries haven't been purchasing as many grapes because they don't want to build up their inventories too much," Beckstoffer said.

But Beckstoffer says the industry appears to be on the upswing.

"We're now at the point when we're inow starting to go up that incline again; we're seeing a lot of optimistic signs in the market," Beckstoffer said.

They'll start picking grapes in about three weeks, starting with the chardonnays and sauvignon blancs.

The grapes are still a bit sour, but grape growers say they'll be perfect by harvest time.

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