Vineyard Team Post Harvest Notes

Rick Aldine, North Coast Grape Manager

Summarizing the 2016 NorCal Vintage: “A moderate summer & fall punctuated by harvest-ending abundant rain in October, near-normal harvest tonnage volume, excellent quality, high brix + low pH, great cellaring potential.”

The North Coast vintage started normal with Napa Sauv Blanc & Musque picking at 22- 23 brix beginning mid-August. Pinot Noir & Chard at 24-25 brix started 1st week September in the warmer sites of Napa & Sonoma and volumes peaked during 2nd & 3rd weeks of September in all of the North Coast counties. Yields varied grower to grower, site to site but some generalizations were valid. Chard and Sauv Blanc were heavy in Mendocino & Lake Counties, perhaps up by 10-20%. Chard volumes were normal in Napa & Sonoma but the colder sites like Petaluma Gap and extreme Sonoma Coast saw a shorter crop yield. Pinot Noir was somewhat short on yield in all areas, perhaps short 25% of normal, but definitely not as bad as the 2015 shortfall.

Merlot, Petite Sirah, and Zin harvested at 24.5-26 brix began 3rd week September in all counties and continued through mid-Oct. The Napa-Sonoma Cab Sauv harvest at 25+ brix began following a brief hot spell 9/26-28 and the vintage’s 1st Fall rain event Oct 2-3. Peak harvest for NorCal Cab Sauv was 10/4-23. Excellent long range weather forecasting predicted significant wet weather approaching 10/14-17 and again 10/24-31. Growers & Winemakers wisely brought in all remaining grapes, regardless of brix, by Monday noon 10/24. Rainfall for 10/24-31 totaled as much as 5”. Tonnage numbers are still being tallied and most pundits suggest an overall crop close to “normal” but as we have recently seen, pollsters can be wrong. Hee-Haw!!! I’m guessing an overall crop 5% short of normal. So far, Winemakers are jubilant about the lay- down potential for the 2016 Reds. Cheers!

If there is anything I can help you with or discuss with you, shoot me an email at rick@agajanian.com.

Dan Garcia, Northern Interior Grape Manager

Well I would have to say that the dust has settled literally. After receiving about 4.5” of rain in late October we were finally able to get back in the vineyards and complete our harvest in The Northern Interior. We began harvest on the 8th of August and finally completed it on the 25th of October. The crop came in at normal to below normal with early white varieties coming

in below what was expected. Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay set the tone for the lighter side of whites, but white blenders had a good showing and came in with higher than normal predictions. On the red side it was no different. We had varieties that came in below normal and some exceeded our expectations. So all in all it was a good harvest with an active market that was quite the change from our previous year.

With the crop below normal in 2016 we should see steady and fair prices in 2017 but who knows for sure. So many things can affect our market that are out of our control. Crush went along pretty well until about early to mid-October where we witnessed full fermenters and we had a good week of not much movement. Then the rain came causing even more anxiety with growers with later red varieties. Lucky enough we were able to get harvest completed after about a week of dry out time. With that being said I feel we had a good and productive
harvest. Quality was there, prices were fair, and most importantly we were able to sell our
fruit. Now it is time to reflect on how lucky we are to be involved in this great industry of ours moving forward. It is time for everyone to get some rest and enjoy the fruits of our labor. I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and a prosperous year ahead.

If you have any grapes you would like to discuss, please feel free to contact me at dan@agajanian.com.

Jeff DeLaGuerra-Central Interior/Coast Grape Manager

I hope everybody is enjoying some well-deserved rest after another fun year. Again, this was a fast and furious year. Brief summary of this harvest: whites lingered in the early weeks of August and reached ripeness around mid to late August. During this time all of the reds were ripening in an even pattern. Mid-September came and everything was ready to pick. Tanks were bursting at the seams and harvesters were hard to come by. But, as we do every year, we got it all in. It looks like it’s going to be another great vintage. Hot varietals: Monterey Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Paso Robles Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Grenache.

Please give me a call if you are seeking 2017 grapes or have fruit for sale at (559)355- 3531 or email me at jeff@agajanian.com.

Tim Mendonca -Central Interior Grower Relations

With harvest in the rear view mirror we can take a deep breath and relax. For us at Agajanian, harvest started in the valley the first week of August with our early whites. We had a little break and then the rest of the whites came off, which rolled right into the reds. We wrapped up harvest the first week in November.

The crop was down about 5% from normal with Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Cabernet Sauvignon having strong demand along with some blender varieties. Even with the crop being a little light this year they are still predicting that the crop will come in around 4 million tons.

A big issue we faced this year was labor. We had a couple of harvests that we had to post phone a few days because labor was not available. Labor became even harder to find once the raisin harvest began. With the new law regarding Ag. labor hours and overtime growers will be looking more into mechanical uses in the vineyards to replace hand labor.

For the coming winter months the weather is looking like we are actually going to have a somewhat normal winter. We have already seen some foggy mornings with it clearing up by mid-day. We have already had a couple of early rain events with hopefully more to come.

If you are interested in planting or have open fruit for 2017 feel free to give me a call (559) 352-2452 or email me at tim@agajanian.com.

Patrick Tachella – Viticulturist

The 2016 harvest is finally over! The time to breathe and reflect has finally come for us at Agajanian Vineyards. The quality of this vintage was outstanding, even though timing of it all was… simply whacky! We started harvesting Muscat varieties in late July and within a week we were harvesting from Fresno to Lake County at the same time. Some weeks we were bringing in Zin before Chardonnay; other weeks, Cabernet came before Zin. In Fresno Co. we heard of Rubired picking the first week of September, earlier than anyone could remember and 3-4 weeks earlier than “normal”.

The North Coast started nicely, and then there were a few heat events that prompted some winemaker worries. The generally mild summer and quick ripening led to more wackiness with brix, pH and TA relationships. Maturities progressed quickly but rain had growers proclaiming, “I need to pick all my cab this week!” and wineries rebutting with “sorry; tanks are full this week”. Thankfully we were well prepared and the fruit for our Premium Bulk Wine Program came in with ideal flavor maturity and awesome acidity.

The image of the Central Coast harvest was marred by the threat of smoke taint and similar pH/TA woes, but this wasn’t a reality for all. Wise producers tested before picking and much of the crop ended up in tank with phenomenal flavors, totally free of smoke taint. Northern Monterey Co. producers were most severely impacted by the Soberanes fire smoke and several picked their fruit onto the ground. It was the right decision.

From last year’s spring time weather we had foreseen a slightly lighter than average crop for 2016. We were pretty spot on with our predictions. Although we did see white blenders with higher than expected yields; an uncommonly strong interest from the “big boys” prompted dramatic exchanges that kept everyone excited and energized. This excitement seemed to be felt all season long. Everyone knew from early on, the 2016 vintage was going to be one for the record books.

If there is anything you would like me to come have a look at, feel free to contact me at patrick@agajanian.com.

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