Napa Valley's 2015 Vintage: Intense Flavors Expected

10/10/2015 - St. Helena, CA – Winemakers are giving high praise for the quality of this year’s Napa Valley wine grape harvest, according to the Napa Valley Vintners, the region’s industry association. Most vintners in the region have completed the harvest and are fully engaged in the winemaking process. Here is what they are saying about the 2015 vintage:
 
 
1.  What will be the hallmarks of the 2015 vintage?
Most winemakers in Napa Valley say that fruit quality is high, but quantities are low, especially compared to the last three record-setting harvests in 2012, 2013 and 2014. This year will be remembered as one of the region’s earliest harvests ever, beginning on July 22 with the picking of grapes for sparkling wine.
 
 
2.  How will the drought affect wine quality this year?
Napa Valley received nearly 75% of normal precipitation over the past year. The relatively dry and warm winter resulted in small clusters of grapes with highly concentrated flavors. The cool spring brought a long flowering period followed by somewhat uneven fruit set [Katherine: “fruit set” is when the flowers fall off the grape vine and grape growth begins.  “Uneven fruit set” means that some of the buds produced grapes, while others did not — I think because the plants were trying to limit the number of grapes, since the winter was so dry.] Many winemakers are using new technologies, like optical sorting, to ensure that they are picking and crushing only the best quality grapes. Although it is a bit early to tell, the expectation is that the wines of the 2015 vintage will have deep, rich flavors.
 
 
3.  Will the recent forest fires in the area have an impact on Napa Valley wines?
While thousands of Lake County residents to the north were dramatically impacted by the devastating fires, no Napa Valley vineyards or wineries were damaged by wildfire. The majority of the time the fire was burning, the smoke blew away from Napa County due to the usual winds from the southwest. There have been no reports of smoke affecting 2015 Napa Valley wines.
 
 
4.  Will there be a shortage of Napa Valley wines due to this year’s lighter crop?
The 2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages in Napa Valley were some of largest ever. Now that vintners know that the quantity of wine for 2015 will be lower, they are managing their inventories to ensure that there will be enough Napa Valley wines over the next several years.
 
 
5.  When will the first 2015 wines be available?
The earliest bottles of aromatic Napa Valley white wines, like Sauvignon Blanc, will be released in the spring of 2016. Most 2015 Napa Valley red wines won’t be available until 2017 at the earliest.
For more information on the 2015 harvest, including hundreds of photos posted by winemaking crews, the video series “A Day in the Life of Napa Valley’s Harvest,” seasonal recipes and suggested wine tasting itineraries, visit napavintners.com/harvest.
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About the Napa Valley Vintners
The Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit trade association has been cultivating excellence since 1944 by inspiring its more than 525 members to consistently produce wines of the highest quality, to provide environmental leadership and to care for the extraordinary place they call home. Learn more at napavintners.com.