Wine grape harvest arrives early on Central Coast — again

Vineyard workers pick grapes at Adelaida Cellars.
Vineyard workers pick grapes at Adelaida Cellars.

Grape-picking has begun at area vineyards, marking the start of a harvest that’s about a week later than last year, though still several weeks earlier than historical averages.

Winemakers are optimistic that both yields and quality will be better than last year, with no significant freezes or heat spikes affecting the crop.

“It is remarkably normal at this point,” Alta Colina winemaker Bob Tillman said of this year’s growing season. “We have yields in the 3-tons/acre range predicted with nice small berries — a formula for great wines.”

With the early start, most wineries aim to delay picking as long as possible to allow better tannin development in the skins.

“The longer I can leave the fruit on the vine without any dramatic weather events, the better, as flavors multiply without knocking alcohol or acid out of balance,” said Jeremy Weintraub, Adelaida Cellars winemaker.

Still, the solid growing season points to a quick harvest. Kukkula predicts that most or all of its fruit will be harvested in the next three to four weeks, and Halter Ranch Vineyard expects a quick turnaround once employees begin picking in early September.

“If the temperature continues as forecast and we see consistently warm days and cool nights, we will be looking at a compact harvest,” Halter Ranch Vineyard winemaker Kevin Sass said.

Sally Buffalo writes about wine, beer and spirits. Reach her at or on Twitter @sallybuffalo.

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