Northern California's wine-grape harvest is winding down, but for the first time in 35 years the dean of the Sacramento area's commercial winemakers isn't joining the fun.
Charles Myers, who made his first wine at his Harbor Winery of West Sacramento in 1972, is sitting out this crush. "I'm feeling the wear and tear," says Myers, who retired more than a decade ago after teaching English at Sacramento City College for 38 years. "I'm absolutely not thinking of selling the winery," he makes clear.
Though Myers is on the sidelines this harvest, winemaking continues at Harbor. Myers has a custom-crush agreement with longtime Sacramento home winemaker Mateo Munoz, an attorney with the State Department of Justice who is going commercial with his label Vina Dos Rios, but he won't have any wines to release until after they've aged in barrel for two years. Munoz and his winemaking partner, Martin Giampaoli, crushed and fermented a ton each of syrah, sangiovese and tempranillo at Harbor this fall.
In addition, Myers has wines in barrel yet to be bottled and released. One of them is his signature dessert wine Mission del Sol, made with the state's historic mission grape. Grapes for the wine were picked in 1986, and the wine has been aging in barrel ever since. "I’m in no particular hurry to bottle that wine, it's only getting better, it's not getting woody," Myers says. (The 1984 version of the wine still is available at Corti Brothers.)
The future of Harbor Winery is uncertain, but Myers cherishes the citrus and walnut trees and the vegetable garden he tends out back and isn't about to give it up. "Nobody in my family is interested in taking this over," Myers says of the winery. "I don’t want to sell the place, but the obstacles to making wine myself are huge."