A Later and Prolonged Harvest Led to Exceptional Quality and Quantity
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (November 20, 2023) – August 24th marked the beginning of another record-breaking harvest in Sonoma County and winegrowers and their vineyard employees finally gathered recently in a local vineyard to discuss the year and the outstanding quality of the harvest. Their comments, both in English and Spanish, are provided below and the harvest roundtable can be viewed here.
The year started with a winter and spring filled with above-average rainfall and below-average temperatures that got the growing season off to a slow start, delaying harvest well past the early-August “norm” of the past few drought-impacted years. A mild spring and summer allowed for ample hang time, enabling the fruit to develop with stunning quality, and a few late-summer heat spikes are thought to have “made the vintage” according to Steve Sangiacomo, Partner at Sangiacomo Family Vineyards.
Once harvest kicked off in late-August, the pattern of cooler weather continued, providing favorable conditions for the grapes to gain proper balance and brix, and be harvested at the opportune time. Matt Vogensen, Partner at Bevill Vineyard Management, commented, “I think anytime there’s not a weather event that forces the grapes to be picked, you’re automatically going to have a higher quality year….it was a pretty great year for the growers and wineries.” With harvest going well into fall and into the early weeks of November, cool nights led to some frost concerns. Steve Dutton, President of Dutton Ranch, even reported during the last two weeks of harvest there were many nights where they were picking grapes and frost protecting at the same time at ranches spread across west county.
María Hernández, de Bevill Vineyard Management, añadió: “Siempre hay nuevos retos con la vendimia, pero nos enorgullecemos de nuestro trabajo y de entregar siempre la mejor calidad.” (Maria Hernandez of Bevill Vineyard Management added, “There are always new challenges with harvest, but we take pride in our work and always delivering the best quality.”)
Overall, the wet, cool weather led to a remarkable harvest, with predictions of quality to be outstanding. As we transition into the dormant season, our dedicated grape growers and vineyard workfore can take a moment to rejoice in their hard work, savoring not only the quantity but also the exceptional quality of the 2023 harvest. Luis “Memo” Guillermo Velásquez de Dutton Ranch describió la tradición de reunirse como equipo al final de la temporada para una “Fiesta de la Cosecha”, la mejor manera de celebrar los frutos de su trabajo. (Luis “Memo” Guillermo Velasquez of Dutton Ranch described the tradtition of coming together as a team at the end of the season for a “Harvest Party” the best way to celebrate the fruits of their labor.) After celebrating together, they’ll return to the vineyards, tending the vines in preparation for the next vintage.
This year marks the first time Sonoma County Winegrowers has created a bilingual harvest recap video, bringing in the perspective of the farmer and the vineyard employee as they work together to create the world-class grapes Sonoma County is known for. Capturing the essence of the 2023 harvest from all corners of the county, this captivating conversation weaves the story of another unique Sonoma County harvest. Click here to watch the harvest recap video.
Here’s a brief look at perspectives from around the Sonoma County appellations:
“We started our harvest on August 24th and finished November 13th,” said Tyler Klick, Viticulturist and Owner of Redwood Empire Vineyard Management. “The year started with a wet winter and a very cool spring which pushed back our bloom dates, which in turn, pushed back our harvest date. Then we had a really nice summer. We did have some heat spikes, but those were early enough that they didn’t have an impact on quality or quantity.”
Dry Creek Valley
“Our first pick was the fourth of September this year, which is definitely a little later. With the cool weather that we did have, a lot of our blocks hung out there for quite a long time. There was a lot of hang time this year, which should lead to some great quality fruit. We didn’t end up finishing until November 4th,” commented Matt Vogensen, Partner at Bevill Vineyard Management.
Russian River Valley
Steve Dutton, President of Dutton Ranch, reports, “We started on September 1st and finished on November 8th. It was a record harvest for us, picking more tons than we’ve ever picked, which is very fortunate after the last several years we’ve had.”
“We started harvest August 29th and finished November 1st, so we harvested in four months. I don’t know if we’ve ever done that before,” states Steve Sangiacomo, Partner at Sangiacomo Family Vineyards. “A long, cool summer allowed for amazing hang time. We’re very fortunate to mother nature this year. It was a resilient vintage for the vintners, the growers, and even the grapes.”
Sonoma County Winegrowers
Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), was established in 2006, evolving from the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association, which was first launched in 1983 by local grape growers inspired to work together to elevate the region. SCW is a marketing and educational organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier grape growing regions. With more than 1,800 growers, SCW’s goal is to increase awareness and recognition of the quality, sustainability and diversity of Sonoma County’s grapes and wines through dynamic marketing and educational programs targeted to wine consumers and influencers around the world. In 2014, Sonoma County’s winegrowing community embarked on a major initiative to have all Sonoma County vineyards certified sustainable. Today, 99% of the vineyard acreage in Sonoma County has completed certification by a third-party auditor making Sonoma County the most sustainable winegrowing region in the world. In addition, in 2020, SCW became the exclusive pilot partner for the California Land Stewardship’s Climate Adaptation Certification. In 2022, SCW began envisioning a Farm of the Future which it officially introduced in 2023. SCW’s sustainability efforts have been recognized with California’s highest environmental honor, the 2016 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA). Learn more at www.sonomawinegrape.org.
John Segale | 916.600.1081