Wow! What a ride that was! As the winemaker for Agajanian Vineyards & Wine Company, I get to see it all – from early ripening grapes in the Central Valley to Cabernet Sauvignon in the North Coast. Our first grapes were in on August 9th and the last crush was November 13th. It was certainly one of the longest harvests I’ve had – there have been later but not as long.

The dry weather at the end of harvest let us keep the grapes hanging on the vine to reach optimal maturity, especially in Napa Valley where wineries typically do not pick until sugars reach 25 brix or higher for Cabernet Sauvignon. The overall weather was cooler than last year and we did not have a lot of high heat days in July, August or September. We also experienced devastating fires late in the season which affected growers in the Mendocino and Lake Counties. This seems to be a constant theme now in California and Oregon and looks to be more of the same in the future.

In the Central Valley, we had some very balanced varietals coming in due to the cooler weather. Central Valley fruit typically fights to get the right flavors and color from rapidly ripening grapes, but this year it came in with good flavors and color. Some varietals came in more balanced than I have seen in a long time.

Coastal grapes looked exceptional this year with a good balance in acids, pH and sugars, fruit flavors and structure.

North Coast was a lesson in patience as we were all itching to get out there to pick but it was a slow ripening for the last 2-3 brix. We had a little scare from the 1 ½ inches of rain but the rest of the season was dry. Towards the end, I was thinking we were heading into a drought year but forecast modeling says it will be a wet winter.

So what does all this mean? It means we have some really exceptional wines to choose from this year. A Grenache Rosé from Central Valley, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from Napa and Russian River Valley. The Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa Valley are showing exceptionally well even though it’s a bit early in their development.

All harvests start out with us raring to go with anticipation then at the end we can’t hardly wait for the last load to cross the finish line. Harvest 2018 looks to be a standout year in California and holy cow – it’s the holidays already!    

Harry Parducci
Agajanian Vineyards & Wine Company