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Napa's 2007 vintage

September 19, 2007 |  5:02 pm

NapaharvestHarvest isn’t yet complete in the Napa Valley. But last week, two things were surprising vintners, winemakers and vineyard managers, as the 2007 crop started to arrive at wineries. Though the number of grape bunches is comparable to last year’s crop, the vineyard yields are light, weighing only about half as much as the 2006 crop. And the berries (as individual grapes are known in the biz) are small, often half the size of last year’s fruit. No one knows why this happened. One vineyard owner suggested that the cool, dry winter produced an early yet poor fruit set that matured exceptionally slowly during a cooler-than-usual summer. Another owner pointed to a single hot spell in early July, 30 days after bloom, saying the heat stunted the growth of the berries at a critical stage in their development. Other vineyard managers suggested that the prolonged heat spell from late August to early September dehydrated the grapes. Regardless of the cause, everyone in the valley says this highly concentrated fruit will make intensely flavored juice (and that's a good thing!). Most folks expect to produce fewer cases of wine, but the wines, they say, will be stellar. As exciting as that sounds, curb your enthusiasm. No one ever badmouths a vintage in Napa. The last time they did was 1998 … and they're still trying to sell those wines.

-- Corie Brown

Photo by Dave Getzschman