Napa Harvest 2016

The Napa Valley growing season started with an early bud break followed by warm weather.  The abundant spring rains, high winter rain supply, and fast paced heat accumulation led to rapid shoot growth.  After fruit set, when fertilized flowers turn into berries, the rains were gentle so they didn’t knock many berries off their vines. 

At this point, growers expected a larger crop than 2015, which was a high quality, low yield vintage.  Beautiful weather throughout the growing season produced a greater than average number of berries per cluster.  Since there wasn’t a water deficit early in the season, higher average berry sizes were likely at harvest.

The Napa grape harvest began on July 28 when Mumm Napa began harvesting pinot meunier grapes for their sparkling wine.  Harvest began somewhat earlier than average since the warmer temperatures in July helped the grapes ripen.

Sauvignon Blanc is generally the next varietal to be harvested in Napa.  Relatively mild August weather meant that many growers let the cooler temperatures slow the ripening process.  Most Sauvignon Blanc grape picking took place late August followed by Chardonnay in the first half of September.

Since red varieties like Merlot, Zinfandel, and Syrah tend to flower earlier and have thinner skins, they are often picked in advance of the most intense Cabernet Sauvignon harvesting.  A cooler September meant that vineyard crews started picking Cabernet Sauvignon about 2 weeks later than the previous two years.  A heat wave near the end of September accelerated the harvesting Cabernet and other red grapes. 

The first significant rainstorm hit on October 14 but at this point the 2016 harvest was over.  The 2016 Napa growing season had an early start, mild summer weather, and long hang-time which contributed to high quality grapes.  This makes 2016 the fifth consecutive stellar harvest for Napa wineries.