Despite Extreme Weather, 2019 Is a “Perfect Storm” Vintage for Wine
The harvest was “near perfect” in Napa and Sonoma—and in some places in France, where lower quantities will make bottles even more sought-after. But not everyone is was left with a good taste in their mouths.
“This is turning out to be a near perfect harvest,” emailed Dan Petroski of Larkmead Vineyards in Calistoga. “An excellent vintage that will make wines with great structure.” He wrapped up picking late last week after working 20-hour days. A warm, late summer, followed by a cooling trend and a touch of rain last week, created ideal conditions. Whites are already fermenting, and the cabernet harvest is underway up and down the valley, according to Napa Valley Vintners.
There will be plenty of grapes—probably too many—as both Sonoma and Napa face a grape glut.
Yet the danger of possible power cutoffs could affect how good the wines are. Because downed power lines were blamed for destructive wildfires in 2017 and 2018, utility Pacific Gas and Electric Co. cuts power when fire risk is high. That’s often the case at harvest time, when wineries need electricity to run crushers and temperature-controlled fermentation tanks. For those that lack generators or solar power, an extended outage can bring disaster.