GREENFIELD — Scheid Vineyards coworkers came together last Thursday to handpick Pinot Noir grapes for the Greenfield winery’s sparkling wine collection, marking the beginning of the 2017 wine grape harvest in Monterey County.
The inaugural harvest came from Scheid’s Isabelle Vineyard — named after founder Al Scheid’s mother — located in the Monterey American Viticultural Area (AVA) on River Road at the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Traditional champagne grapes are grown on the small plot for Scheid’s sparkling wines.
“The grapes harvested today are for our Isabelle Cuvée,” said Scheid winemaker Marta Kraftzeck.
After the early morning harvest on Aug. 3, the grapes were taken to the winery to begin the crush and fermentation process. Grapes for sparkling wines are harvested early to ensure high acidity with low sugar levels, ideal characteristics for sparkling wine production.
Kraftzeck said the 2017 sparkling wine will not be released until the year 2022.
“We use the traditional method for sparkling wine making,” she said. “Our 2012 sparkling wine is just being released this year. The 2017 sparkling wine won’t be released for another five years.”
According to the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association, winter rains and moderate weather have given local winegrowers a positive outlook. This year’s crop is expected to produce high-quality fruit throughout the region, despite generating an anticipated average to slightly light crop load.
“Although there are variations between area and variety, on average the clusters are large and look good, better than last year’s,” said Greg Gonzalez, vineyard manager for Scheid Vineyards. “The quality of Pinot Noir grapes is high. The climate in Hames Valley (an AVA in southern Monterey) has been very temperate, producing ideal conditions for the ripening of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.”
Jason Smith, president of Valley Farm Management and Smith Family Wines of Soledad, said the winery experienced a more typical weather pattern this year.
“The winter rains produced excellent root flush. Spring was mild and the bloom was good. These combined to set the tone for happy, healthy vines,” Smith explained. “Recent warm temperatures are helping the grapes transition from veraison to full ripeness. With increased heat and less winds, a good portion of the harvest will begin by the first week of September.”
Harvest will be in full force by the first week of September and actively continue through October.