Napa Valley's 2023 grape harvest may be delayed by weeks due to cool spring, summer

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Napa's 2023 grape harvest may be delayed due to cool spring, summer
Napa Valley vineyard owners say a cool, wet spring has turned back the clock on vine ripening, and the 2023 harvest could be delayed for weeks.

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- In the North Bay, there are concerns in Wine Country when it comes to grape growing. Vineyard owners say a cool, wet spring has turned back the clock on vine ripening, meaning the 2023 harvest could be delayed for several weeks putting the crop at risk of fall rains and wildfires.

Vineyard crews at V. Sattui Winery are busy creating more space for grapes to grow under the hot sun of the Napa Valley, it's been a challenging season for the precious fruit so far to say the least.

"Certainly one for the record books," said Tom Davies.

V. Sattui President and Napa Valley Grape Growers board member, Tom Davies says it began with a drought-busting winter and spring with record rainfall and below average temperatures into the start of summer.

MORE: Sonoma winery forced to close 25 days over past few months because of rain, flooding

"This is my 43rd year at V. Sattui, I have a few years to look back on and this has been the coolest start in the Napa Valley in 21 years," said Davies.

That cool spell means grapes of all varieties have essentially been confused, and super slow to develop, no ripening yet.

"The weather so far it's pushing the entire harvest at least three weeks or so," Davies added.

Davies says some grape harvests may not happen until October or November. Which could put the crop at the mercy of fall rains and even wildfires.

MORE: UC researcher suggests more efficient testing for smoke-tainted wine after California wildfires

"If we do get early rains, El Niño, along with a late crop, that's not ideal, said Davies.

Caleb Mosley is vineyard Manager for Matthiasson Wines, he says the vines remain resilient.

"These vines haven't been irrigated once this year, incredible. We can grow this big, beautiful canopy without a drop of water because we had such a good winter and spring," said Mosley.

Experts say hot weather is helping the grapes ripen. A silver lining in the vineyard, the grapes are growing loosely clustered, which could reduce mildew if they get wet before harvest.

"It could be a great harvest, not a big bumper crop but we could have great quality, we're farmers, so much could happen between now and then," said Davies.

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