Sparkling Wine Grapes may be Harvested Soon
2007 has been a warm growing year in California, and the harvest of sparkling wine grapes may begin as soon as early August. This would be about 2 weeks earlier than normal but is not unprecedented; the 2004 harvest began in late July.
Grapes used to make sparkling wine, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, are picked earlier than those used to make still wines. This ensures that acidity is high and sugars are low. The grapes are then made into a low alcohol base wine during the first fermentation.
After the first fermentation, the wine is bottled and the liqueur de triage is added which induces the second fermentation. This all occurs in the bottle, trapping carbon dioxide and raising alcohol levels to the standard percentage.
This year’s harvest is shaping up to be a large and high-quality one in California. Springtime frost and rain were not much of a threat, and vineyard owners are generally happy with how the growing season is going so far.