‘Outstanding quality’ for 2021 California harvest, say winemakers

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/donaldgruener
Pic:getty/donaldgruener

Related tags: Wine, Us, California

The 2021 vintage is set to be one of the best in recent memory, according to California wine body Wine Institute, with winegrowers enjoying a smooth harvest following a moderate and consistent growing season.

The ongoing drought has presented challenges for winegrowers, resulting in reduced yields, but vintners are reporting outstanding quality and great concentration in the fruit.

California produces about 80% of the nation’s wine; and comes in as the world’s fourth-largest wine producing region. 

Grape ripening

Picking began early in many regions this year, including the North Coast — ranging from a week to several weeks ahead of average. Central Coast appellations experienced a cool year that prompted a later-than-average start.  

Grapes for sparkling wines are typically the first to be picked in California, but this year, some varieties for still white wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc, were the first to ripen.

In addition, varieties that do not normally reach maturity at the same time ripened simultaneously, resulting in the need to pick multiple varieties at once in some regions. 

Sonoma County​ experienced an ‘excellent growing season overall’, getting off to a cold start and progressing to warm and fast finish.

The drought bought lower yields, but created intense flavors in the fruit. Since there were no wildfire or smoke exposure issues in 2021, the crop sizes for Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon will be larger than 2020.

Napa Valley​ enjoyed a mild growing season free from issues, although a lack of rainfall and low water table throughout the valley presented challenges. Again, due to the drought, berries were very small compared to previous years, and yields in some areas were down 20%-30% from 2019.

More than 80% of California wine is made in a Certified Sustainable California Winery and over half of the state’s 637,000 vineyard acres are certified to one of California’s sustainability programs (Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, Fish Friendly Farming, LODI RULES, Napa Green and SIP-Certified). 

“Along with preserving the land for future generations, many of the sustainable practices used by the state’s vintners help make the harvest and growing season run more smoothly and increase wine quality,” ​notes Wine Institute.   

Related topics: Markets, Beer, Wine, Spirits, Cider

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