“Crush” is the time of year when winemakers begin harvesting grapes in Napa Valley from their vines and press them into your favorite varieties of wine. The start and end of harvest will vary annually, although the season typically starts during the end of summer. The 2013 grape harvest began late July through early August with the first grapes being cut from vines for sparkling wine.  Growers say a dry spring here led to this year’s early harvest.

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With warm weather continuing into September, the pace of the 2013 wine grape harvest has accelerated. The picking of white wine grapes, especially aromatic varieties, is
nearly finished and the harvesting of red wine grapes including Pinot Noir, Merlot and Malbec is in full swing.

Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley are gorgeous and scenic all year long, but there’s an enhancement to the experience this time of year. There’s a sweetness in the air as the growers are picking their grapes and pressing them. Blankets of fog and haze cover the vineyards in the early morning.

Some facts about Harvest:

  • Grapes need a dry, warm summer for uninterrupted ripening.
  • Winemakers pray that it won’t rain right before or during harvest.  Not only can the grapes rot, but there typically aren’t enough vineyard workers to support a rushed harvest.
  • No matter how old a vine is, grapes only grow on stalks that are one year old.  Because of this, vineyard managers have to prune back their vineyards every year.
  • The goal of the vineyard manager and winemaker is to grow concentrated, flavorful grapes.  They focus on quality over quantity, which sometimes means sacrificing part of a grape crop.

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