I’m up at Frediani Family Vineyard in Calistoga, checking things out.  It’s between noon and one o’clock.  It was about 85 degrees when I first got out and now it’s heading towards 90.  It will probably get to be a high of about 95 around 3pm this afternoon.

Speaking of weather, we have seen a lot of foggy evenings and mornings, which has been nice.  Keeping temperatures in the 80’s in the cooler parts and the low 90’s to mid 90’s in the warmer parts.

It seems like we have had a nice chunk of that weather here at the end of July.  That’s perfect.  It looks like overall we are somewhere between 10 days to 2 weeks ahead of a normal harvest at this point.

Some of the sparkling wine folks that have grapes in warmer areas like the Delta or Lodi have started picking this week.  I’m sure it won’t be too long before some of the coastal areas get started for sparkling wine material.

Here in Napa we have a lot of color change (verasion) that has happened.  Specifically in Frediani Vineyard where I was today, with the 181 clone Merlot, we are at 90% or better verasion.

181 Merlot Verasion 

Then in the older Niebaum selection Merlot we are closer to 80% verasion. 

Niebaum Merlot Verasion 

Then in the Cabernet Franc we are at about 70%.

Cab Franc Verasion

Pretty much all the crop removal has happened at this point.  I saw a few cluster mummies on the ground, but not too many.  It looks like everything that is left on the vine is pretty even. 

Growth has definitely stopped in a big way. Basically nothing is growing.  Even a few laterals that are there and pointing upwards are stopped.  Which is good, so the vine is taking all the goodies that it makes with photosynthesis and instead of growing more green parts (which it doesn’t’ need anymore) it’s putting it into the fruit which means good flavor accumulation.

I think we will see at least 4 to 6 weeks before we start harvesting.  I’m sure it will be in the early part of September, certainly within the first two weeks that we begin picking.  We may not get the older Niebaum Merlot until closer to October, but I bet it won’t fall into October.  Things are looking good, and the vines are looking healthy.

I noticed Jim was dripping the 181 Merlot a little bit.  Right after verasion that’s a good time to give them a little drink, to get them through the last phase of ripening.

The Niebaum Merlot is such an old piece.  It only has overhead sprinklers for frost protection.  It’s basically a non-irrigated vineyard.

Non-Irrigated Merlot 

They are old soldiers, with big trunks and nice canopies so they certainly don’t need it. 

FV Niebaum Canopy

I know when I spoke with Jim about verasion, about a week and a half ago, he had just put a little drip on the Cabernet Franc just before it started verasion.  So in about another week or two we will put a little bit more on that.  (You can see how much it’s grown since my last post)

Cab Franc Growth

As I say, things are looking good, I’ll run down to Hyde and get caught up there, and we will also get to Dead Fred.

I wouldn’t be surprised if verasion down in the cooler area of Coombsville (in comparison to Calistoga) is just as far along with its color change.  But because it’s so much milder down there it takes it a good month or so longer to get to full ripeness compared to Frediani up in Calistoga.

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