Sonoma County Vintners Harvest 2017—A Summary
Sonoma County Vintners, in partnership with our extraordinary world-class winegrowers and winemakers, is honored to present this 2017 Sonoma County Vintners Harvest Report Summary.
The rush of harvest activity and excitement that harvest season is traditionally known for, briefly gave way to the dramatic circumstances and events that marked and made the 2017 harvest season one we will never forget. While our County moves forward to celebrate this year’s wonderful vintage, we also stand together and celebrate our communities, our people, and our history and heritage that continue to make Sonoma County, one of the greatest places to live, work and thrive.
Our 2017 summary is a collection of observations, opinions and first-hand accounts on the 2017 grape growing season and harvest from Sonoma County Vintners 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 throughout Sonoma County and to all those who participated in our 2017 Harvest Report Summary during this very busy and memorable vintage. Our summary would simply not be possible without their expertise, dedication, wine passion and support.
2017 Harvest Summary
Sonoma County’s 2017 growing season was, by many growers and vintners definition, anything but “normal”. “If anyone is looking for “routine” in a growing season, they won’t find that here in 2017” observed Nate Weis, Director of Winemaking at Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars.
The 2017 growing season started off with record setting rainfalls that were much appreciated after almost five years of drought. However, the abundance of rain and moisture delayed some vineyard management and pushed the beginning of growing season into a later start. In addition, the increased rainfall also produced some vine-vigor challenges that required additional focus and attention to cover crops and canopy management.
Then skies across Sonoma County began to clear and the 2017 growing season began to look up with sunny and warm conditions. “Cluster counts in most of our vineyards looked good, and the feeling was we may have a large crop for 2017”, said James Hall, Founder and winemaker at Patz and Hall Winery.
Spring / Summer
As flowering started, a wide variety of weather conditions kept growers busy. Late lifting foggy and windy days, as well as unusual heat spikes all made for an eclectic mix of conditions. Then in June, several heat spikes not only drove canopy growth and kept vineyard managers on their toes, but also seemed to leave clusters with smaller berries and berry weights lighter than normal. So initially what was potentially looking like a larger crop and later harvest schedule, suddenly appeared to look closer to average yields and moved the harvest window into a more typical range.
Then as the last weekend of August gave way to September, extreme heat made its way into Sonoma County. The next two weeks produced temperatures in the upper 90’s to 100 degrees setting off a furious picking schedule, kicking the harvesting of early to midseason varietals into high gear. During this fast-paced two week period, some wineries picked over 65% of their total grape production. Other wineries reported that varietal harvests that traditionally took one month to bring in, were harvested in 10 days in.
As the heatwave broke and temperatures actually fell to below normal ranges, vines began to relax and wineries were able to catch their collective breath and slowing the pace of harvest.
Then came the fires that started on the evening of October 8th. Fortunately at this time, over 90% of grapes across Sonoma County had already been harvested, processed and in tank. “The 2017 wines are fantastic with excellent concentrations of flavors”, said Nate Weis Director of Winemaking at Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars. In addition, winemakers across Sonoma County report that color, aromatics and flavors are outstanding and reflect the overall excellent varietal quality for the 2017 vintage.
In addition, during the fires it was discovered that vineyards across Sonoma County acted as “fire breaks” helping to impede and slow the progress of the fires.
In conclusion, Sonoma County Vintners would like to pay tribute to the dedication and amazing efforts of winery staff, winemaking and vineyard teams, many of whom found themselves and their families displaced, for their extraordinary efforts and focus on completing the 2017 harvest and winemaking process despite the uncertain circumstances that the fires produced. Their unwavering commitment to growing the finest grapes and making some of the greatest wines in the world is truly inspiring. Cheers to you all!