Harvest 2016 Summary Report

With the 2016 vintage and harvest now “in the barn”, Sonoma County Vintners, in partnership with our extraordinary vintners and winegrowers, is excited to present this 2016 Harvest Report Summary.The rush of activity, excitement and energy that marks harvest each season is winding down and giving way to the celebration of another wonderful and tasty vintage across Sonoma County.

The following summary is a collection of observations, opinions and reports on the 2016 Grape Harvest from Sonoma County Vintner member winegrowers and winemakers from all across Sonoma County. Sonoma County Vintners would like to express our deepest appreciation and thanks to all our winegrowers and winemakers who participated in our 2016 Harvest Report during this very busy time. Our report would simply not be possible without their expertise, passion and willingness to share their stories.

Harvest Video

Early Harvest

Sonoma County’s 2016 vintage began it’s development with a warmer and milder 2015 Winter and an early “bud break” that appeared in the Spring of 2016. This encouraged predictions of another early harvest season.

“Bud break was more than three weeks earlier than normal, occurring in February instead of March for Cabernet Sauvignon at Laurel Glen Vineyard on Sonoma Mountain”

RANDALL WATKINS, WINEMAKER AT LAUREL GLEN VINEYARD

“The last few years have had rainfall early in the season with long periods of dry, warm weather. In 2016 the moisture reserve in the soil was more than we have seen in years.”

ALEX HOLMAN, WINEMAKER AT KELLER ESTATE

“After 4 years of drought in Sonoma County the 2016 growing season started with abundant and consistent rainfall, replenishing reservoirs and recharging soils.”

MIKE SULLIVAN, WINEMAKER AT BENOVIA WINERY

Mid-Harvest

Over the Summer, Sonoma County saw beautiful warm days with many cool foggy evenings. June and July were generally milder without experiencing extended heat spikes or long duration heat events.

One of the defining climatic elements to the 2016 harvest across Sonoma County however was the cooler than normal August. This cooler weather cycle slowed the harvest process and resulted in increased hang times for fruit. This contributed to amazing ripeness and greater layers of flavors without excess or exaggerated sugar levels.

“We had a nice cool and foggy August which slowed ripening and extended hang time after seeing a warmer June – July. We waited for optimal ripeness and good numbers before making the picking decisions.”

SHELLY RAFANELLI, WINEMAKER AT A. RAFANELLI WINERY

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Late Harvest

The pace of this years Harvest was also one that growers and winemakers in general thought was positive. Many wineries reported that unlike other vintages when crops seemed to ripen all at once, in 2016 they never seemed hurried or had challenges with tank space.

“We were able to keep fruit moving from the vineyards to the tanks and then to barrel so there was never a pinch-point.”

JENNIFER HIGGINS, WINEMAKER AT LAMBERT BRIDGE WINERY

Learn About the Varietals Grown in Sonoma County

Final Thoughts

Many winegrowers and winemakers experienced crop levels in vineyards that were quite varied.

Growers and winemakers across Sonoma County are reporting that the 2016 wines that are now in tanks and barrels are tasting fantastic with great flavor profiles and characteristics. Hopes of larger than 2015 yields with excellent fruit concentration have also been realized.

Now with the conclusion of the 2016 harvest, thoughts of cover crops, erosion control, rainfall and catching up on much needed rest run through the minds of grape growers and winemakers across Sonoma County.

“Our Rockpile vineyard fruit yield came in average to slightly above average but it may be some of the best fruit we have seen from that vineyard.”

CLAY MAURITSON, OWNER & WINEMAKER AT MAURITSON WINES

“Crop levels were varied with some vineyards higher than estimated expectations and others were well below, however the quality of the grapes was high.”

JAMES HALL, CO-FOUNDER, PATZ & HALL

“The grapes for the 2016 harvest were of superior quality and we are sure this will be a terrific vintage for Sonoma County with many beautiful wines”

BEN PAPAPIETRO, WINEMAKER AT PAPAPIETRO-PERRY WINERY

Learn More About Harvest in Sonoma County