Here in Napa in mid to late December, the hills are beginning to change from brown to green, and most of the vineyards have lost their leaves. Just before the holidays, we have 2011 harvest reports in from Southern California, as well as the Midwest and East Coast.
On the Central Coast, Michele Testa says 2011 was a difficult growing season: Growers faced high mildew and botrytis pressure throughout the year, frost damage in April, and a substantial amount of rain in early October. The year was cool and damp, with yields low throughout due to poor fruit set and growing conditions. Quality varied depending on location and variety; most winemakers with earlier ripening varieties reported good quality, while some winemakers with later ripening varieties faced botrytis issues from the October rains. Overall, the 2011 harvest was a difficult one—one that many are glad to have behind them.
Across the United States—results were mixed, depending in many cases on rain. One winery in one spot might have been spared the worst, while a nearby winery 20 miles away might have lost 50% of their crop.
Dan Brick reports: The Midwest was spared weather woes that the two coasts dealt with. Indiana had very good harvest in terms of volume and quality, seeing excellent results from the Traminette, Chambourcin (French-American hybrid), and Chancellor grapes. In Minnesota, the hardy varieties of Frontenac, LaCrescent and Marquette all performed well.
Michigan had an excellent crop as well—huge volumes and high quality. The Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris looked great, as did Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Bryan Ulbrich at Left Foot Charley in Traverse City trialed the Fraîcheur barrel for Pinot Gris, getting the distinctiveness of the acacia and the very fresh floral character.
Texas had a very tough year, owing greatly to drought. Virginia saw lots of rain, especially during the hurricane season. New York was also hit hard by rains. On the other side of the Mississippi, Colorado winemakers enjoyed a better crop than last year, though they still lost some of it.