Les “américains sont en fleur”…

harvest in august?

115 days would from the date of the blog would mean harvest around August 25, so yes, harvest in August. Obviously, a lot can happen between now and then…
On the other hand, not much to see in the vineyards here…after a couple of days of warmer weather we are back into a cooler period (especially in Oregon where we are still waiting for all of the vines to push). Harvest in October looks more likely (though again much can happen).

Adam Lee
Siduri Wines

Looks like CA will pick after Burgundy again this year. This is has happened about half the time over the last decade.

Kevin, I’m curious if you think anything can be generalized from that - either in the quality of the wines and/or the average quality of the vintages.

I know that the harvest date alone doesn’t mean much if anything, given so many other variables. I guess picking earlier in Burgundy means less need to dice with fall rains and reduced/eliminated need to chaptalize. in CA the general wisdom would say a cooler season means better phenolic maturity at lower brix. It could also be said that a later average pick date in CA just means the grapes hung too long (although I wouldn’t believe that’s the case in the SCM).

Is it possible that the large-scale weather trends are giving France on average better/warmer/more consistent weather than California?

The conventional wisdom (in both CA and France) is that the longer hang times lead to higher quality. However, I do not adhere to this belief. Our shortest hang time vintage, 2008, made some of our best wines. So I think there are many factors (like yields and dry soil conditions) that can have even more impact on vintage quality and character.

Climate change manifests itself differently in different regions. Clearly in Burgundy it is leading to earlier harvests. Meanwhile in CA, inland heating can actually lead to cooler coastal (ie where Pinot is grown) temperatures as the rising hot air creates a vacuum that pulls in the fog from the ocean. Recently, CA is not seeing warmer summers (in fact they seem cooler) though September temperatures have risen noticeably.

As far as consistency of climate, I believe that California’s marine climate will always be more consistent (meaning less variable not necessarily better) when compared to France’s continental climate.

Good morning Kevin,
This actually lines up with the majority out here (at least in Burgundy). There are a few that believe that longer is better though they truly fall directly in the minority camp. One thing that most agree on is that August makes the vintage, and September seals it. The winds and rains in these months are seriously respected as they can certainly make for a nightmare of dream. Also, historically speaking harvests have ranged from late August to early October. Last year, many of us in the Côte de Nuits started on September 25th, ending early October while in 2009 we started early-mid September.

Thanks for elaborating on that idea Kevin. What you say makes sense.

I’ve gotten the impression over the last decade that we’ve seen a lot of super-hyped VsOTC from Europe, and we almost never hear California spoken of in those terms. Maybe this is because vintages are more variable in France so when a great one happens, it’s more noteworthy? Or the hype machine is just more built around hyping France? Or climate change is dealing France a better hand? Perhaps 10 years is too small a sample size to make any judgements.