From Temecula to Napa Valley and beyond, this is the season of the year that can make or break a vineyard in California’s considerable wineindustry.
The state has some 10 percent of the number of vineyards in the U.S.
They produce a whopping 90 percent of U.S. wine sales in the country.
California has struggled with unusually dry weather of late and the harvest bottomed out in 2011 with excess fruit that lacked its usual quality. But last year showed a beautiful harvest up and down the state, in lock step with increased sales of California wines from the 2010 red wine harvest and 2011 and 2012 white wine harvest.
The most important wine country is Napa Valley, home to arguably the world’s best Chardonnay and Cabernet. It describes its crop with the “Three ‘E’s’ — Early, Even and Excellent. “I would pop a C into the mix…consistency. While our European friends are always bracing for terrible, damaging weather, California, even in a less than great year, will still produce lovely wines more or less.
Napa Valley started harvest on Aug.1 with the whites, one of the earliest on record. By early September the lighter reds were picked, and finally the cabernet grapes came off the vines by mid-October. “In a nutshell, this vintage gave us the extraordinary gift of enabling us to pick exactly what we wanted, at perfect ripeness and ideal hang time,” noted Paul Colantuoni, winemaker at Rocca Family Vineyards. So the word is that the 2013 vintage will be every bit as blessed as the 2012.
Over in Sonoma, Pedroncelli Winery up near Geyserville, finished their 86th harvest, a “bumper crop” with all the makings of fine quality from a near-perfect growing season. They finished with their Petite Sirah and Port varietals. Pedroncelli just released its first red from the fabulous 2012 vintage, a Pinot Noir. Look forward to rich flavors and bright acidity with a lighter touch.
In Monterey wine country, they’re calling 2013 a historical best. The harvest was prolonged by more than average fog, which made for more acidity and structure. The Pinot Noir grape had extra hang time for brilliant looking fruit with even ripening.
Paso Robles is also tagging 2013 as a “near perfect growing season with additional hang time that produced amazing color and some very promising wines.” Cass Winery opened up about a side issue that’s been rearing its head in the press. “Growers know well that we are in the midst of a grape shortage due to the lack of new plantings during the recession. That shortage appears to be spilling over to wine sales.”
I just read two articles on this very subject. One declared a wine shortage; the other proclaimed that there was no wine shortage. I guess if you went to your favorite wine shop and they didn’t have your favorite brand, then there is a wine shortage.
Taking it Easy at Trinitas Cellars Wine Bar
Feels like Napa Valley when you spend some relaxed time at the new Trinitas Cellars Wine Bar in the 9-acre Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa. It should. The casual dining, wine and perfect setting are made to resemble its sister Meritage Collection property in Napa Valley.
Executive Chef Kim Kramer and Danny Fancher, director of food and beverage, have teamed up to present paired wine and food combinations that are very comfortable together.
The portions are mostly petite. Kramer likes to call it “playful home cooking.” One of her favorite menu items that are catching on is the Mac N’ Cheese N’ Fried Chicken that matches up with the Trinitas 2010 Old Vine Petite Sirah that touches the palate with cinnamon and dark plums.
She recommends sharing plates. All menu items are available at the bar. My favorite was the Beef Short Rib with truffle chips with a 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel.
Estancia has its famed Thanksgiving Day Buffet, Nov. 28 from 2 to 8 p.m. It’s one to dream about. Reservations may be made by calling (858) 964-6521.
It’s “Feel Good Friday” at Orfila Winery in Escondido Nov. 15 from 3 to 5 p.m., with Jimmy Patton and his guitar. Entertainment is no charge. Wine and food are available. Call (760) 738-6500 ext. 22.
North County Wine Company in San Marcos has a Goldschmidt wine event Nov. 16 from 5 to 10 p.m. Cost is $15. On Nov. 20 from 5 to 9 p.m., Carole Shelton Wines of Sonoma will be poured at $10. Call (760) 744-2119 for details.
An Italian Food and Wine Master Class will be held, as part of the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival, Nov. 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Macy’s School of Cooking at Fashion Valley in San Diego. Learn cooking techniques, taste, and get recipes. Cost is $70. Visit www.sandiegowineclassic.com to RSVP.