The weekend of 2 September northern California experienced the hottest temperatures ever recorded, at least since written records began in the middle of the nineteenth century. San Francisco hit 106 °F/41 °C, Livermore reached 115 °F/46 °C, and Napa shattered all previous records at 113 °F/45 °C. Despite ample warning, winegrowers throughout northern California scrambled to react to the searing temperatures and the elevated humidity that accompanied and lingered after the heat. Some picked early, others irrigated to mitigate the heat and anticipated dehydration, and others simply watched as their grapes shrivelled and burned.

‘This has been one weird year’, said Stuart Spencer of St Amant Winery in Lodi. ‘Our old-vine Zinfandels on the sandy soil suffered the most during the heat.’

Like many producers, Spencer saw an extremely rapid rise in sugars over the few days leading up to 2 September. ‘After the first wave of heat, we picked a portion of the vineyard and those grapes came in around 26 Brix, but soaked* up to 27.5. We picked again three days later after the second heatwave. The vines seemed to noticeably suffer within those three days – more shrivel, mould and rot. After extensive sorting at the crusher, that lot soaked up to 29.5 Brix.’

For those unfamiliar with the implications of such measurements, that means a potential finished alcohol level of 18.7% by volume. Perhaps not surprising given four consecutive days with temperatures between 105 °F/41 °C and 108 °F/42 °C.

Read the rest of the story on JancisRobinson.Com.

This article is my monthly column at JancisRobinson.Com, Alder on America, and is available only to subscribers of her web site. If you’re not familiar with the site, I urge you to give it a try. It’s only £8.50 a month or £85 per year ($11/mo or $111 a year for you Americans) and well worth the cost, especially considering you basically get free, searchable access to the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs. Click here to sign up.

3 thoughts on “California Sizzle and Shrivel

  1. Proin nunc libero, consectetur id sapien id, ullamcorper ornare elit. Sed at nisi dapibus, ullamcorper tellus nec, efficitur diam. Maecenas vehicula nunc mauris. Donec ac luctus nunc, nec ornare ligula. Ut porttitor efficitur posuere. Nullam ac nisl at tellus mollis porttitor. Proin blandit rutrum aliquet.

  2. Aliquam tristique vitae ante a imperdiet. Aliquam nec ante eget lacus porta malesuada. Ut nec neque aliquam sapien faucibus venenatis sodales at ante. Integer sodales ipsum sapien, in sodales nibh porta et. In finibus justo vel leo congue pellentesque. Maecenas convallis sagittis nunc ac vulputate. Pellentesque aliquam dolor vitae enim elementum, non venenatis metus ornare. Praesent tellus erat, aliquam sit amet convallis a, pellentesque non mi. Nam mollis sollicitudin egestas. Nam venenatis aliquet odio, eu dapibus lectus fermentum nec. Aliquam in ligula viverra, tristique velit ut, faucibus diam.

  3. Duis semper ligula sed accumsan volutpat. Fusce augue eros, auctor at ornare in, dictum vitae diam. Mauris fermentum, nisl in accumsan tincidunt, justo augue vulputate enim, sit amet sagittis ante libero non elit. Donec eu nisl non dolor consectetur iaculis. Integer non lacinia odio. Suspendisse erat neque, vestibulum ac nulla at, volutpat vulputate ex. In vitae velit auctor, dictum ex nec, lobortis enim. Integer congue lorem in lectus laoreet, nec fringilla mi auctor. Maecenas in velit quis elit interdum egestas et ac ante. Phasellus dui ipsum, rutrum eget arcu a, dignissim iaculis orci. Duis semper ex non odio sodales dapibus. Nulla lobortis maximus tortor, vitae tempus nisl. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer maximus nunc et sem scelerisque, suscipit ultricies turpis interdum. Ut fermentum condimentum venenatis. Nullam vestibulum pharetra velit, ac eleifend odio varius vitae.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Name *