North Bay vintners prepared for powerful rains


Grapes are going into the presses and the juice for another vintage in the Napa Valley is coming out the other end, on its way to storage. With the threat of the major rainstorm, growers stepped up production. With no time to follow the Giants playoff odyssey or check college football scores, the race was on. Picking has been going on nearly around the clock,

"There's a lot of wine-making zombies walking around, so be careful. We've been running the last two to three weeks around the clock, seven days a week. Everyone's exhausted," said Director of Winemaking at V. Sattui Winery Brooks Painter told ABC7 News. And, they ramped it up this weekend before the storm.

Down Highway 29, at Grgich Hills, all of the crop has been picked. They finished just hours before the rain came. "We picked over 200 tons in two days. Typically, we do 40 tons a day maximum," Ivo Jeramaz said. As soon as the truck arrived with the grapes, they were turning them into juice. "We had a bountiful harvest. So, not only we had to pick so much but in the morning, we were pressing tanks, meaning pressing, draining, finishing cabernet and in the afternoon, filling the same tanks," Jeramaz recalled.

Some vines still have cabernet and other hearty red wine grapes, but the canopies have dried out quickly. Those grapes should not be affected by the rain, but there is still a threat to others. "Zinfandel for example, other varieties, there a little softer skin and so there's a danger of rot. So after a rain event like this, we'll be rushing to get everything off as soon as it dries out," Painter explained.

One winemaker explained that it rains every year in France while they're making extraordinary vintages and that vintners in Northern California are just a little too spoiled. The good news is that it has been a big high-quality crop. So when the grapes that still remain on the vines make it into bottles, consumers can expect an extraordinary vintage.

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