The 2012 California wine grape harvest yielded generous amounts of high quality fruit, and winemakers across the state are describing this year's vintage as "excellent," "outstanding" and "ideal." "The 2012 vintage will offer consumers in our growing national and international markets fantastic choices," said Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute. "The California winegrape harvest is estimated at 3.7 million tons, up from 3.3 million tons in 2011."
"Mother Nature smiled upon the California wine harvest this year with a bountiful crop of amazing quality," said Kathleen Heitz, President of Heitz Wine Cellars. "The diversity and depth of talented winemakers throughout the state promise some exciting and vibrant wines from the stellar 2012 vintage."
"The 2012 harvest has been exceptional," said Frank Cabral, Director of Grower Relations for Trinchero Family Estates. "Moderate weather throughout the growing season has put little pressure on the vines, and provided grapes with well-balanced chemistries. The 2012 harvest is making up for the low yielding 2011 crush, with most varieties picking at above average yields. The 2012 harvest is shaping up to be one that will become known for its abundance of fruit and quality of wines."
"The 2012 harvest on the North Coast can be summed up in one word, 'outstanding,'" reported Bob Blue, Winemaker at Bonterra Vineyards in Ukiah. "It was back to a normal harvest picking timeline, only slightly later on the calendar than an average year, with an abundance of sunshine. Overall the quality has really been special this year, the fruit is ripe and concentrated. There were no disease issues with any of the grapes. The Pinot Noir has amazing fruit intensity, with classic varietal tones of strawberry and spices. Chardonnay has wonderful concentration and a mélange of fruit flavors from peaches to apples and lemon. Merlot has beautiful color and ripeness, with rich blueberry flavors. The Cabernet has outstanding flavors."
"This was one of the more idyllic growing seasons that we've had," concurred Aron Weinkauf, Winemaker and Vineyard Manager at Spottswoode Estate Vineyard and Winery in Napa Valley. The fairly mild weather allowed us to wait for fruit maturity in order to make our preferred style of wine. We were pushed to our limit to accommodate the quantity of fruit we harvested, but I am extremely happy with the overall quality and balance of the wines."
"This year we have been blessed with ideal weather," continued Hank Wetzel, Managing Family Member of Alexander Valley Vineyards in Sonoma County. "The harvest has been excellent. Growing conditions throughout the year have been ideal for producing a bumper crop of mature grapes with balanced flavors. In the spring, our vines set a large crop. During the summer, we had an abundance of California coastal "sweater" weather, fog in the morning, and warm sunshine in the afternoon, often sending temperatures into the mid 90s and then quickly cooling off after sunset. These daily temperature swings help make California, Sonoma County and the Alexander Valley great places to grow wine grapes. This daily cyclical temperature shift, occasionally hitting 50 degrees, continued into September ripening up fruit evenly and slowly, allowing us to bring in harvest at a steady measured pace. "We are now harvesting Cabernet Sauvignon. Clusters are packed with tiny bluish black flavorful berries."
Paso Robles had more heat, and the crop level was not quite as abundant as in the North Coast, but we had similarly high quality fruit. "Overall, we're excited about the 2012 harvest in Paso Robles," said Jason Diefenderfer, Winemaker at Hope Family Wines.
Janet Myers, director of winemaking at Franciscan Estate and Mount Veeder Winery, had this to say. “What a fantastic harvest. It was a low rainfall year, with a return to more normal summertime temperatures versus 2010 and 2011. While the crop was on the heavier side, three heat waves during September and October really helped propel the vines along to achieve excellent ripeness. Color is deep, and the wines are very structural and concentrated. We are very pleased with how things are turning out.”
Michael McCay, Owner and Winemaker of McCay Cellars in Lodi, is also enthusiastic about the harvest: "I am very excited about 2012! I love the brightness and the deep, rich flavors we are getting across the board. The Zinfandels are upfront but also showing great potential. I think 2012 has the potential to outperform 2010, which was even more "perfect" in terms of numbers and ease of picking. The 2010 Zinfandels were great, but at this point in time, the 2012s taste even better! All of our 2012 Zinfandels are finishing at alcohols lower than 15%—most of them closer to 13.5%. With such intense flavors, we couldn't ask for much better! I really believe it's going to end up being the best wines we've ever made."