The wine-grape harvest of 2008 is under way, earlier than usual for still table wines, reports winemaker Mitch Cosentino from Pope Valley on the east side of Napa Valley. While it's not unusual for the picking of grapes for sparkling wine to get under way in early August, a harvest this soon for still wines is unprecedented for Cosentino, who has been pulling grapes from Pope Valley since 1993.
"I was up here last Thursday checking on frost damage, walking the vineyard and tasting fruit from the young vines when I realized it had great intensity and wonderful flavors, so I decided we've got to pick this stuff," said Cosentino this morning as he oversaw the crush at his Pope Valley facility. The juice will go into the 2008 version of his proprietary wine The Novelist, bottled under his brand Cosentino Winery at Yountville. (The 2006 Novelist recently won a gold medal at the California State Fair commercial wine competition.)
"We usually start picking up here at the end of August, so this is three weeks earlier than usual and two weeks earlier than ever," Cosentino said.
This early start to the table-wine harvest is something of a surprise, given that spring was brutally chilly in spots and summer has been relatively benign. A spring frost is expected to reduce the size of Cosentino's harvest of cabernet sauvignon in Pope Valley from its usual 4.5 tons to 1 ton, but the sauvignon blanc looks to have weathered the freeze much better, he says.
In addition to his eponymous winery, Cosentino also markets wine under the brands Crystal Valley Cellars, CE2V (soon to be renamed Secret Clone Estate), Blockheadia Ringnosii, and Legends (a collaboaration with NBA great Larry Bird).