Napa Valley Earthquake & Drought Help Deliver High Quality 2014 Wine Harvest
Napa, CA (October 9, 2014) – The 2014 Napa Valley wine grape harvest, the earliest since 2004, will wrap up next week, five to seven days earlier than previous years, according to Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG), who live-streamed its annual Harvest Press Conference, Thursday, October 9, from Moulds Family Vineyard. Although the growing season provided numerous challenges – third consecutive drought year, South Napa Earthquake, late season hail and more – NVG anticipates 2014 to be one of its highest quality crops, resulting in a continued increase in the value of the Napa wine grapes.
Though the drought continued to concern grape growers throughout the growing season, spring rain came at the right time providing the necessary water needed for a fairly smooth growing season and perfect conditions for producing a high quality crop. The warm spring weather resulted in an early bud break and heat spikes forced harvest to begin a week earlier than 2013. Growers picked at night and in the very early morning hours to bring the grapes in at the perfect time and in cool weather – better for the grapes and the farmworkers.
“We were on a bit of a roller coaster this year,” said Allison Cellini, NVG member and Viticulturist at Renteria Vineyard Management. “But good contingency planning and an early harvest have produced fantastic grapes. This latest heat spike pushed the grapes to optimal ripeness. As soon as they’re off the vines, we’d like to see a very rainy winter.” Nearly five percent of Napa Valley is undergoing replanting of vines that are 25 years and older and no longer producing.
One particularly odd phenomenon of the 2014 season is that the August 24 South Napa Earthquake caused seasonal creeks to ‘magically’ start running without any rain falling, proving there is a large amount of water under Napa Valley’s wine grape roots.
- Fruit held up well during unseasonal hail storm
- February and March 2014 rainfall was 11-17 inches, falling at exactly the right time of the season to sooth drought concerns and mitigate irrigation needs
- 2014 total rainfall is around 50-60% of normal
- Napa Valley’s microclimates proved themselves when on a single day one part of the Valley had a heat spike, while another had a frost alert
- July 2014 average high temperature ranged from 80 degrees in Carneros to 92 in Calistoga and Pope Valley – right in the sweet zone for fine wines
- March – June 2014 months were all 3-5 degrees higher than average, getting the vines off to a strong start
- While drones are not expected over the vineyards any time soon, NVG noted that grape growers have been using aerial monitoring, in the form of a cameras on airplanes, for decades
- Increased remote vineyard monitoring via weather stations enables growers to make faster decisions in regards to a specific vineyard or part of a vineyard, further refining crop management practices
- Optical sorters are becoming more sophisticated and are used to continue to elevate quality
- Drought conditions over the past few years have prompted many growers to invest in more sophisticated technology, such as soil moisture probes, sap flow sensors, and evapotranspiration monitoring, to determine exactly when and how much to irrigate
- NVG’s ROOTSTOCK, a revolutionary conference designed for top quality grape growers, vineyard and winery owners, and winemakers worldwide, debuts November 13 at the Napa Expo Fairgrounds. The conference provides access to high-level, provocative seminars and industry experts, wine trials and tastings, and an exclusive exhibition featuring over 120 of the industry’s highest quality viticulture and enology companies. A “Concept Bar” will showcase curated, progressive ideas, methods, and equipment designed to further quality and advance industry practices.
- Minimal spring shortages; lengthy shortages are being eliminated by the fact that grape growing is now a nearly year-round enterprise in Napa
- Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation educated over 7,500 farmworkers and their families to date through such programs that focus on professional development; increasing quality in the vineyard; workplace safety; and providing personal success tools such as financial planning, ESL opportunities and information on various community services
Demand for Napa Valley 2013 grapes
- 2013 harvest value was over $650 million
- 2013 average ton of wine grape varieties valued at $4,404 (red) and $2,266 (white)
- 2013 average ton of Cabernet Sauvignon valued at $5,474
About Napa Valley Grapegrowers
The Napa Valley Grapegrowers is a non-profit trade organization that has played a vital role in strengthening Napa Valley’s reputation as a world-class viticultural region for over 39 years. Its mission is to preserve and promote Napa Valley’s world-class vineyards. NVG represents over 690 Napa County grape growers and associated businesses.