Just what does it take for a grape to become wine that lives up to Napa Valley’s reputation for quality? Follow the story below to understand the life cycle of the grape from vine to wine.
More wine grape varieties grow in Napa Valley than in any other region of comparable size in California. As a result, our winter pruning season takes place over an extended period of time. Pruning is a highly skilled vineyard practice. The purpose is to guide the vine in certain directions and for particular purposes. In Napa Valley, much of this work is done by vineyard workers who are year-round employees. Here’s one example of the precision with which winter pruning decisions in Napa Valley are made: some vintners may prune their Merlot vines a full two weeks later [...]
As with anything agriculture, the timeline below is a general reference as to when certain grape varieties are picked in the Napa Valley. There are many factors that determine when the grapes are harvested: the grape variety itself; where in the Napa Valley the vineyard is situated; the influence of microclimates throughout the valley (fog, San Pablo Bay influence, hillside vs. valley floor, aspect and exposure, etc.); winemaking styles; soil types (looser, gravelly soils tend to ripen grapes early; heavier, clay soil, later); and in the end, how Mother Nature plays her cards. Harvest can stretch from late July and into November. There are overlaps and sometimes block by block picking, but below will give you a general sense of what comes in when and why.
Grapes for sparkling wine are usually the first to be picked, heralding [...]