Cool Temps Delay Harvest
Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for decades, and being something of a weather buff, this summer has been one of the strangest in recent memory. Yesterday’s (Tuesday, August 24, 2010) high temperature in San Jose was officially 95 degrees F and today’s forecast calls for a high of 103! If not mistaken, I believe that is only four days so far this summer that the mercury has broken the 90-degree mark here in the South Bay. Not your typical summer to be sure.
So what does any of this mean for Northern California’s winemakers? With so few warm days are we on the cusp of seeing a radical departure in the quality or style of wines produced from the 2010 harvest? As with anything in life there are very few sure bets and even Northern California’s reputation for a relatively predictable climate is subject to the whims of Mother Nature.
The fact is that no one can say exactly how things are going to turn out when all is said and done and that’s one of the primary reasons I love wine. The element of surprise, as much as it must drive the winemaker absolutely bonkers, reminds us that our powers of prediction remain inconsistent at best.
For the wine consumer with more than just a passing interest in the alchemy that is winemaking, the variables, including weather, are all part of the story as told by the finished product. While this may seem of little consequence to the majority of casual wine drinkers there are a more than a few folks, myself included, that look forward to seeing the seasons reflected in the wines that inevitably find their way onto our tables and into our glasses.
While the jury is out on exactly how the 2010 vintage will be reflected in the wines from Northern California’s vineyards, hopes are high that the cool days of August will result in a finished product that shows some restraint in terms of alcohol levels. For better or worse, California wines have earned a reputation for frequently being fruit bombs that forsake balance for a consumer-friendly, all fruit – all the time, drinking experience.
While the fruit bomb label might be overused, there is no question that the 2010 harvest, late as it may be, will produce wines worthy of debate, description, discussion, and I look forward to trying as many as I can!
photos and text © 2010 craig allyn rose