Harvest begins in Sonoma County

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Scott Zapotocky, director of vineyard operations, and a crew from Atlas Vineyard Management at J Vineyards & Winery’s first pick of 2014. Photo by George Rose.

Healdsburg, Calif.—J Vineyards & Winery kicked off the 2014 vintage in Sonoma County with a Wednesday night pick of about 8 tons of Pinot Meunier for sparkling wine at the winery’s Nicole’s Vineyard in the Russian River Valley AVA. To see more photos of the pick, visit our Facebook page

Winemaker Melissa Stackhouse said she expects to pick Pinot Noir for sparkling wine this Friday. Picking will continue through the following week for sparkling wines, but she expects to bring in some Pinot Gris next week as well. “We are staged to move quickly,” she said. “The heat will dictate the initial pace of the early stages of harvest.”

Stackhouse said the yields at J’s vineyards look to vary as some Pinot Noir clones suffered shatter but other clones appear unaffected by the drought and have set for a good amount of fruit. She said the first picks for Pinot Noir still wines could occur in the second or third week of August. “This would be early as we normally begin the still-wine vintage the first week of September,” she said.

Following the Wednesday night harvest, the grapes received a traditional blessing and toast at the winery. “So many unknowns at this time, which is what makes harvest so fun and sometimes stressful,” Stackhouse said. “Will it be heat will it be rain?…Whatever it is, we’re excited to watch it unfold and pursue our attempt to make spectacular wine from this curious 2014 vintage.”

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