Winemakers are Optimistic as the 2014 Wine Harvest ramps up – Could this be the 3rd “Dream Vintage” in a row?

The 2014 wine harvest, or “Crush”, is picking up steam throughout California with each passing day. A trend has emerged, and the familiar refrain from grape growers and winemakers goes something like this: the 2014 growing season and wine harvest in California looks really, really good, but it’s earlier than ever.

Grower/winemaker, Steve Matthiason states, “2013 was an early vintage, and this year is even earlier.”

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Coming on the heels of “near perfect” growing seasons in 2012 and 2013, the restrained enthusiasm of growers and winemakers over the 2014 wine harvest was almost palpable.  Read more…

Hirsch Vineyards 2014 Harvest

photo by Jasmine Hirsch – Hirsch Vineyards harvesting Pinot Noir

⇒ And then this happens…

Earthquake Interrupts Wine Harvest in Northern California’s Wine Country

Napa earthquack - Saintsbury Winery barrel room

Saintsbury Winery barrel room – photo by Scott Strazzante at

The 2014 harvest in the North Bay regions of Napa and Sonoma Counties was briefly interrupted Sunday morning (8/24/14), at 3:20 a.m. PST, by a devastating earthquake registering 6.0 on the Richter Scale, and centered near American Canyon and the city of Napa.

Jon Bonné, wine writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, reported on 8/25 that the majority of damage to wines stored in barrels and broken bottles at wineries and storage facilities occurred from Oakville south to American Canyon and the city of Napa.

Most of the stored, bottled wines were relatively safe being packaged in boxes, stacked on pallets and shrink-wrapped. However, some wine shops and private cellars such as the one at Silver Oak Cellars, which held many irreplaceable “Library Wines” did not fare so well.

As of August 29, 2014, the estimated damage stands at approximately $320 million. But as one Napa city official stated, “it’s a floating number.

Earthquake Relief Fund Established

The outpouring of community support and help in the clean up efforts have been inspiring. The Napa Valley Valley Vintners donated $10 million to start a Napa Valley Earthquake Relief Fund.  You can go to their website to donate.

In the meantime…Mother Nature waits for no one! The Crush Continues!

Gus Gamba at Gamba Vineyards and Winery says his Estate Old Vine Zinfandel vineyard in the Russian River Valley is about 10 days ahead of schedule, and anticipates harvesting in early October. Gus echoes the general sentiment we’ve been hearing repeatedly, that this is a record early vintage, but the fruit is looking very good! Join our Live Hangout and find out what else Gus says about the 2014 vintage and impending Crush.


When: FRIDAY, AUGUST 29, 2014
Time: 5:00 PM PST

Mark Pisoni, who manages the vineyards for the Pisoni Family in the Santa Lucia Highlands states the he is gearing up for the Crush and expects to start picking in the coming weeks.

According to Jasmine Hirsch at Hirsch Vineyards, located in the Sonoma Coast AVA, their first night of harvesting took place on August 19th, picking Pinot Noir. In addition to their own wines made by Ross Cobb, Hirsch Vineyards is the source for several vineyard-designated wines made by such notable wineries as Littorai and Williams Selyem.

Jim Barbour at Barbour Vineyards Management manages some top vineyards in Napa Valley for such clients as Hundred Acre and Revana. Although Barbour farms mostly Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec), they also farm a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Jim says he expects to finish harvesting the white varieties this week, and begin picking red varieties, possibly as early as mid September.

Wes Hagen, winemaker at Clos Pepe Vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills AVA had an interesting observation. Wes states, “I would say that this vintage promises to show perhaps more about a winemaker’s philosophy than any vintage I can recall.” He goes on to say, “Expect variation from label to label to really show the winemaker’s hand in picking decisions.”

Join us for the Live Hangout: Register at WINE HARVEST 2014 REPORT

We’re Just Getting Started…

Although we are in the early stages of the 2014 wine harvest in California, the consensus seems to be that the 2014 vintage is: a) a 3rd consecutive, banner growing season (so far); b) a record early growing season; and c) a vintage where the drought played a significant role in the advanced time table of the growing season, as well as the quality of the vintage.

We’ll see you on the Live Hangout!

⇒  Read more…


The Wine Riff

Small Vines Wines Chardonnay harvest

The entire family gets involved in the Wine Harvest at Small Vines Wines.



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