Images of fruit from 2016 Vintage, and checking color in juice from a small sample.

It’s late July in Santa Maria Valley, California which means we are getting the cellar ready for winemaking and watching the grapes in the vineyard carefully for signs of ripeness.

Lots of folks have been asking about Vintage 2016 and how things are looking, so here’s the skinny from the trenches:

Yields (crop levels) seem to be average to below average in Santa Maria. We’re expecting to see 1.5-2.5 tons per acre in most fields for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, a bit less in the older sections of vineyards (40 years +)

We’ve had a gloriously cool Summer thus far without the same heat spikes we saw in 2014 and 2015, with average high temps in the mid 70’s, and many days with fog and cool winds with highs in the high 60’s!

So we expect to see a later harvest than last year, but a harvest that is still a bit early from historic averages. Just a few years ago the idea of picking Pinot Noir in August seemed very early, with the first two weeks of September being a more traditional kick-off for making still wine from Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc.

I would like to see 2016 as a movement back towards normal–the first vintage in 3 where we haven’t set a record for the earliest harvest in memory.

Reports are in from our two Santa Maria Valley Estate vineyards as well as our holdings in Paso Robles Highlands District that we are finishing veraison (fruit softening and color change) in most varietals, have a beautiful full canopy with no mildew or rot issues.

The vines are busy turning sunlight into sugar, and it will be my job to turn that sugar into delicious alcohol–so really a vineyard is a solar farm for making delicious wine! That’s the kind of sustainable energy program everyone can get behind!

Keep your eyes on this blog for vineyard updates starting in the next few weeks!

–Wes Hagen

Winemaker:  J Wilkes Wines

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