by Garrett Buckland
This year marked the 50-year anniversary of Napa County’s Agricultural Preserve—the first of its kind in the nation. This landmark set of zoning laws, which encompasses agricultural preserve and agricultural watershed lands, established agriculture as the highest and best use of the land in Napa County.
As grapegrowers, we believe this is a time to recognize the county’s successes that have resulted from its commitment to preserving agricultural land. This is the third article in a three-part series commemorating 2018 as the 50th anniversary of the Ag Preserve.
by Dan Clark
The occasion was the annual harvest press conference of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers and the location was Arkenstone Estate near the community of Angwin on Howell Mountain. Jennifer Putnam, Executive Director of the trade organization, moderated a grower panel featuring Sam Kaplan, Winemaker and Vineyard Manager of the hosting Arkenstone, Kelly Macleod of Hudson Vineyards and Pete Richmond, whose Silverado Farming Company manages over 600 vineyard acres for several high-end Napa County wineries.
By and large, growers are a more candid lot than the promoters of the wines their efforts produce. They reveal real life vineyard challenges not covered in the “warm days, cool nights” language of a wine bottle’s back label. During their October 23rd presentation, however, all three growers described this year’s conditions as ideal and suggested that 2018 would likely please winemakers, as well as growers.
by Kerana Todorov
The 2019 harvest in the Napa Valley has been seamless, with neither frost or heat spikes during the growing season.
Sugars are lower than the last couple of years with bright acids, Sam Kaplan, winemaker and vineyard manager at Arkenstone Estate said on Tuesday during the annual Napa Valley Grapegrowers’ Harvest press conference. The harvest at Arkenstone on Mount Howell ended Friday.
The whites in barrel are bone dry at this point and very expressive, Kaplan said. “The Cabernets that are fermenting have great color, great tannin, great fruit extraction,” he added. “So we’re really optimistic.”
“We’re going to have really expressive fruit, great, rich ripe wines, but not over the top,” Kaplan said. “They’re fun.”
by Henry Lutz
Pete Richmond remembers vintages by how difficult they were.
On the heels of a growing season in 2017 that forced Napa grape growers like him to grapple with excess rain, an intense late-season heat spike, a hail storm and ultimately a scourge of devastating wildfires, for Richmond, the 2018 growing season will likely be lost among the more challenging years.
“This will be a vintage that I don’t remember,” Richmond said. “It’s been seamless. And that’s not because of us. It’s just because of the forces of nature … It hasn’t challenged us as growers.”
by Lucy Shaw
According to Napa Valley Grapegrowers, the 2018 growing season was “picture-perfect” and the famous winemaking region is gearing up for a “landmark harvest”.
The growing season started after the February rains. Mild spring weather made for an extended bloom and at set the conditions were perfect, with sunshine, mild temperatures and no winds.
The fruit continued to ripen during the summer months and from June to early August temperatures were steady and warm with no heat spikes, creating “ideal” conditions for the final stretch before picking.