Sonoma County 2013 Harvest Update

Harvest Kicks Off in Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, & Sonoma Valley

The Sonoma County Winegrowers and Sonoma County Vintners are posting regular updates on harvest, so make sure to check back often for the latest news.

Twitter: Follow along with hashtag #sonomaharvest2013


Sonoma County’s 2013 harvest season started in the early morning hours on Friday, August 9 with 2.5 tons of pinot noir grapes picked from Robert Hunter Winery’s Hunter Farms Estate Vineyard located in the heart of Sonoma Valley. The pinot noir fruit will be used for the winery’s limited release bottling of their Brut de Noirs sparkling wine.  J Vineyards and Winery also started their harvest on Sunday night at Nicole’s Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. The winery picked 20 tons of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes that will become part of J’s Cuvée 20 sparkling wine blend.

(Left to right) Winemaker Sarah Quider, Proprietors Rhonda & Don Carano, and Director of Vineyard Operations Steve Domenichelli of Ferrari-Carano celebrate the start of harvest on August 20. Photo Credit: Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery

(Left to right) Winemaker Sarah Quider, Proprietors Rhonda & Don Carano, and Director of Vineyard Operations Steve Domenichelli of Ferrari-Carano celebrate the start of harvest on August 20. Photo Credit: Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery

Many wineries throughout Sonoma County have started picking fruit this week for their still wines, including Dutcher Crossing Winery, Ferrari Carano Vineyards & Winery, Horse & Plow Winery, and Rodney Strong Vineyards who harvested Sauvignon Blanc in Dry Creek Valley. Iron Horse Winery and Inman Family Wines in the Russian River Valley, as well as Imagery Estate Winery in Sonoma Valley have also brought in fruit.

Cooler temperatures throughout Sonoma County in late July and early August have slowed the pace of grape ripening, allowing more time for fruit to mature on the vines and giving winegrowers and winemakers more time to prepare. However, the warmer climate regions like Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley have also benefited from last week’s hot weather (mid to high 90’s) with many growers anticipating an early harvest start date around mid-to late September.  Cooler climate regions, like Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast, are forecasting a start date closer to normal in early September.

Karissa Kruse

Karissa Kruse

“It’s still early in the harvest season, but we’re optimistic and pleased with what we’ve seen so far in terms of fruit quality.  Mother Nature is cooperating with us and we’re seeing ideal growing conditions from the warmer weather during the day combined with cool nights that have allowed fruit to mature at the optimal speed and consistency. Time will tell what kind of vintage 2013 will become, but we’re all excited it’s finally here.” – Karissa Kruse, President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers

Here are some quotes from the “front vines” of several of our AVA’s:

Alexander Valley

Susan Lueker

Susan Lueker

“Early on we anticipated bringing fruit into the winery by mid-August, but we’ve been in a cool weather pattern that’s slowed things down.  On the positive side we’re seeing signs of physiological maturity (seeds browning and releasing from the pulp) at lower Brix, so that bodes well for flavor development.  Berries are sizing up nicely despite the cooler weather, again another good sign that we are getting development without sugar accumulation.  This year we’ll really need to be in the vineyard early tasting and not waiting for sugar numbers to prompt our vineyard visits and picking decisions.” – Susan Lueker, Director of Winemaking at Simi Winery

Brad Petersen

Brad Petersen

“Our Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is through veraison and maturing nicely on the vines. We’re probably looking at the 3rd or 4th week in September to start harvesting.  So far the crop size looks average or a little bigger, but we expect it to be normal once it’s all said and done.” – Brad Petersen, ‎Vineyard Manager at Silver Oak Cellars & Twomey Cellars, and Sonoma County Winegrowers Chairman

Sonoma Valley

Chris Louton

Chris Louton

Before the recent dramatic cooling trend we’ve seen in Sonoma Valley, it was shaping up to be an earlier harvest, which would mean bringing in fruit as early as late August.  This cool weather has given us a little breather, pushing harvest off to what seems like a more typical start of early September.  We will continue to be vigilant in the vineyards and optimize this time to really dial in the quality of fruit hanging out there. Color in reds is really starting to come along nicely, and whites are softening. You can even detect some developing flavors if you find the right berry in a cluster. We expect to start checking sugars of varieties like Sauvignon Blanc sometime early next week or the beginning of the next.” – Chris Louton, Winemaker at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards

Russian River Valley/Green Valley

Pinot Noir cluster maturing on the vine at Gunsulas Vineyard

Pinot Noir cluster maturing on the vine at  Gunsalus Vineyard



GunsalusGunsalus“In Green Valley, we anticipate our Pinot Noir harvest starting sometime around Labor Day and going through the 2nd week in September. It’s been a windy season at our vineyard which has required constant canopy management to keep good fruit exposure and minimize disease pressure as our fruit matures at the right pace. We’re seeing relatively large clusters that look good from a quality perspective.” – Pamela Gunsalus, Owner Gunsalus Vineyard


About Sonoma County Winegrowers

Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, dba Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), was established in 2006 as a non-profit marketing and educational organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier grape growing regions. With more than 1,800 growers, SCW’s goal is to increase awareness and recognition of the quality and diversity of Sonoma County’s grapes and wines through dynamic marketing and educational programs targeted to wine consumers around the world. For more information about SCWC and its programs, visit

About Sonoma County Vintners

Sonoma County Vintners (SCV) is the leading voice of Sonoma County wine, dedicated to raising awareness and building understanding of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier wine regions, noted for its heritage of artisan winemaking, distinct growing regions, and extraordinary quality. Founded in 1944, SCV represents more than 200 wineries and affiliates of all sizes throughout the county. Learn more about SCV at

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One Response to “Sonoma County 2013 Harvest Update”

  1. carmine August 23, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    Noticing very nice flavor development in Pinot Noir, even at relativly low brix 21. Seed maturity is going faster than I had expected with tannins softening very nicely. Picking Pinot starts tomorrow above the town of Sonoma, 25+ brix. I want to buy futures for this vintage.

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