Hmmmm. I'm not sure what these grapes are. Could be cabernet sauvignon. Could be petite sirah. No harvest crew was around when I stopped along Road 141 just outside Clarksburg in the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta a short time ago to loiter in the sunshine before returning to the office.
Northern California winemakers agree on two aspects of the vintage of 2007. For one, it's crazy; a warm and dry day will be followed by a cool and damp day, and then that pattern will continue, and nobody knows for how long. Secondly, vintners are high on the quality of juice this harvest is yielding. That's common in California, where the growing years don't often vary much, unlike in Europe. Vintage charts don't mean a whole heck of a lot in California. This year, however, there's more excitement in their tone than usual. Whether the electric fruit flavors they've been sampling hold up in the long run remains to be seen, but it's exciting to see so many winemakers upbeat about the quality in this year's bins and vats.
Most grapes are in, with some growers saying yields are down from a year ago. In a few vineyards, it's off as much as 20 to 30 percent (remember last spring's cold snap?), but others say it's down just 10 percent or so. These grapes likely won't hang for long, unless there's a repeat of last night's showers before they have a chance to dry out and field crews can resume picking. I just may have to get out of the office again at that time to pin down just what variety this is.