Allied Domecq predicts another record harvest in California

Related tags Wine

Good weather in California throughout the summer has led to another
bumper year for the state's wine grape producers. The UK's Allied
Domecq is predicting that this year's wines will be of excellent
quality to boot.

Allied Domecq, the UK-based wine and spirits group, has reported a good start to harvesting at its various Californian vineyards and is predicting a bumper harvest in 2002.

The company said that the estimates for the whole of California were set at 3.3 million tons this year, 8 per cent more than 2001. In Sonoma County, where AD has two vineyards, the estimate was set at 182,000 tons, up 5 per cent over last year.

The prospect of another abundant harvest this year led many grape growers to thin their crops during June and July, a move which helps reduce overstocking levels but which also helps to concentrate the flavours in the berries. The long summer means that the grapes are expected to have rich fruit flavours and to produce wines of great complexity.

Margaret Davenport of AD's Clos du Bois winery in Sonoma County said that she expected this year's wines to follow the suit of the last few years when conditions had been similar and produced wines of complexity and colour. She said that the Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay crops had been thinned to help lift the quality and flavour.

Elsewhere in Sonoma County, Judy Matulich-Weitz of Buena Vista - the company AD acquired last year from Germany's Racke group - said that the grapes from this year's harvest were "clean and bright"​, and that the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes had a particularly good acid/pH ratio.

In the Napa, meanwhile, the situation was similar. The high altitude of the Atlas Peak vineyard owned by AD meant that the harvest began later than elsewhere, but according to the company's Darren Procsal, the warm days have helped produce an excellent crop of Sangiovese grapes this year. The good weather also benefited the William Hill winery, where Tina Mitchell said that 2002 could well prove to be "one of the finest growing seasons'​ she had see in her 12 years of winemaking there. "The reds are exhibiting loads of ripe, intense blackberry and plum flavours,"​ she added.

Conditions were also perfect for sparkling wine, and with harvesting now almost complete at the Mumm Cuvee Napa the company's general manager, Rob McNeill, said that more than 80 exceptional lots had been harvested for the 2002 version of the sparkling wine. "We welcomed Ludovic Dervin as our new winemaker at Mumm Cuvee Napa just prior to harvest and we welcome his passion, fresh eyes and sophisticated palate,"​ he added.

Allied Domecq Wines USA's portfolio consists of Atlas Peak Vineyards, Buena Vista Winery, Callaway Coastal, Clos du Bois, Haywood Estate, Mumm Cuvee Napa and William Hill Winery. Allied Domecq Wines USA also manages the US marketing, sales and distribution for Allied Domecq's global wine brands, including Perrier Jouet and Mumm Champagne of France, Cockburn's Port from Portugal, Domecq and Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry from Spain, Bodegas Balbi and Graffigna from Argentina, Brancott Vineyards from New Zealand, and Marques de Arienzo and Bodegas y Bebidas wines from Spain.

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