It is that time of year again.
Wineries across the world begin the ceremonious picking of grapes, trudging down row after row of ripened fruit of the earth. Wine lovers everywhere eagerly await the critics' opinions on how the wines will likely turn out.
Early in October, rain and hail hit Napa Valley hard and wineries panicked. They were faced by a tough decision: whether to pick the grapes, not yet fully ripened, a little earlier than usual, or to hold on and bear the brunt of the weather Gods. This panic was far worsened by the media and twitteratti abuzz with the news and imminent dismay that would become of this year's harvest.
All wine makers yearn for the California Sun to shine bright in the last few days before grape picking begins which ripens the grapes fully and gives California wines their signature complex structure and the concentrated fruit-forwardness.
Critics at Decanter and Wine Spectator have not completely written-off this year as that of sub-standard wines, and even the vintners give plenty promise of hope.
George Blanckensee of Chateaux Motelena's winemaking team continues to prove to us how good this year is shaping up. "We sampled juices of recently harvested fruit, and it’s as deep and rich as always," he said.
Chris Phelps, winemaker at Swanson Vineyards said, ‘It will cause delay rather than be a declaration of disaster’. Phelps even went as far as to term the outcome of the 2011 Napa harvest to be ‘Bordeaux-esque’!
Our stance leans towards the “happy camp” that believes not all is lost. While there might be lower yields and wines with high acidity and lower-than-normal alcohol. Will we really miss the tannins and getting tipsy? I don’t think so. I believe that the ace winemakers will get to show their magic in creating beautifully-balanced wines that will look good in your cellar for over 10 years and will taste even better after that!
And while we pull the corks on those, we can reminisce what we were doing in the year 2011 (NOT fretting over spoiled grapes) and admiring our own age-worthiness along with the maturity of the wines.
You can follow the progress on twitter with the hashtag #nvharvest or #harvest2011