Harvest 2015 just couldn’t wait. Napa Valley got an early start this year, with harvest beginning on July 22. It’s one day earlier than the earliest start on record: July 23, 1997. As one of the first pickers each season, our hard-working harvest crew was up with the sun that Wednesday morning on our 4-acre Vineyard in the Oakville growing district.
“At this point in time we are seeing another year with great quality potential in Napa Valley vineyards,” Mumm Napa Head Winemaker Ludovic Dervin says. “But unlike the last three vintages, it is more of a ‘diamond in the rough.’ The whole season has been shifted at least three or four weeks. The vines were a little confused early on.”
Grapes for many of our California sparklings are often harvested earlier than those of our still wines for the lower sugar levels. “We pick two to three weeks before still wines start, usually followed by the sauvignon blanc, and the cabernets are the last grapes to be picked in Napa Valley,” he explains. “This year we’re seeing a fairly light crop, but we’re getting plenty of sunshine for the finish line.”
As far as the downside to such an early start to this year’s sparkling wine production, “You have less time to get prepared,” Ludo laughs.
During that first day, the picking bins quickly filled with clusters of Pinot Noir. Each cluster of grapes was picked by hand to maintain the integrity of the vines and ensure the quality of the fruit. Soon after, Ludo commenced Napa Valley’s harvest with the blessing of the grapes. This annual tradition blesses the first harvest into the production press, and the entire winery gathered around to not only honor harvest, but to reflect on Guy Devaux’s family, pride, and cherished tradition.
Soon after Ludo sabered the top off a bottle of Brut Prestige, he reflected on what’s to come. “Winemakers and vine growers will have to work hand-in-hand for the next few months to balance out the crop load for another successful harvest season.
“It was the earliest harvest on record, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings,” says Ludo. “We’re expecting another really good year and some great quality.”