Cool Climate for All

Everyone’s been talking about the cool summer in California this year.  If you live in a typically hot inland valley, you’ve enjoyed lower air-conditioning bills this summer but for a few hot days last week.  Same here in Napa Valley.

For reference, much of Napa Valley “normally” enjoys a famous diurnal temperature variation, a 40+ degrees swing between day and night.  Nighttime lows typically in the 50’s shut down grapes for needed rest.  The yin-yang of growth by day and rest at night helps grapes live a nice long summer life and not ripen too early–like people, they need time to develop character.

In our little corner of Carneros, closer to the bay, the daily fluctuation is much narrower–in any year.  Average highs in Carneros are about 77 degrees–when it’s close to 90 inland Napa Valley, say St. Helena.  Like any marine-close environment, nights are milder;  as Virage followers know, our grapes work nights.  Working nights is what gives them the edge to fully ripen without upvalley heat–the long, slow, steady development accounts for the tapestry of flavors in the finished wine.

We shouldn’t call our corner of Carneros “cool climate” because it’s plenty warm, it’s just “cool” for Napa Valley.  I should say “temperate” – from the tempering effect of the bay.  But this vintage, it’s cool climate for all!

Going through veraison, August 14 2010

Everyone is asking if the crop will ripen this year.  In our vineyards, we’ve actually had quite even temperatures and the grapes are looking great.  Going through veraison (when the grapes turn purple) just a week or two behind “normal.”  Without hot-hot weather inland, we don’t get fog pulled over as frequently, so we have sunshine and nice consistent weather, saving one blast of heat for a few days last week.

We expect some fine fruit.


About Emily Richer

Investment banker turned right banker.
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