From the earliest blocks of Russian River Pinot Noir to the first bins of Far Niente Chardonnay, the 2021 harvest season has officially begun! Our incredible Napa and Russian River Valley winegrowers and winemakers weigh in on what they're seeing, tasting and planning for the fast and furious Napa Valley harvest ahead.
EnRoute launched the harvest season in the Russian River Valley on August 18, starting with our Calera clone, block 5, Pinot Noir from the Amber Ridge vineyard. “It has been the front runner for us the past couple years and is following suit this season,” says EnRoute Winemaker Michael Accurso. “The grapes are looking and tasting amazing.”
At Far Niente, Winemaker Nicole Marchesi brought in the first blocks of Coombsville Chardonnay on August 24 (that’s today!), toasting the first fruits of the vintage with a traditional blessing of the grapes. “We’ll start bringing our Chardonnay in over the coming weeks, but our Cabernet will spend a little more time on the vine,” Nicole says. “This is my favorite part of the season – the crisp mornings, walking the rows, sampling grapes, thinking about the fast-paced harvest ahead and just feeling grateful that making wine from unbelievably magical Napa Valley vineyards is my job.”
Nickel & Nickel Winemaker Joe Harden says that, "From Chardonnay to Cabernet, we’re seeing some truly stunning flavor profiles. Much like the 2018 and 2019 vintages you’re enjoying, 2021 is going to be a vintage of distinction, giving us expressive vineyard-driven wines that age gracefully."
What has made 2021 such a standout growing season?
"First, the drought conditions have thinned our yields and brought our vines in balance naturally. And, this summer has had near perfect ripening weather,” says Director of Vineyard Operations John McCarthy. “In past years, we’ve often entered the late summer growing season with staggered spikes of heat. When those spikes happen after veraison – the onset of ripening, when sugars and color come in – we have to monitor our fruit and canopies carefully, This year, we had veraison in late July, and we’ve had nice, steady temperatures in the mid to high 80s ever since.”
John adds that, “From our Russian River Pinot to our Carneros and Coombsville Chardonnay to our Oakville and Rutherford Cabernets, we have beautiful flavor profiles in all of our fruit. It’s going to be an exceptional vintage across our Far Niente Family of Wineries & Vineyards. But, I confess, I’m most excited about our Cabernets. Our yields across the board are medium to medium light, and we’ve done every single thing to bring our fruit into balance. Oak Knoll, Oakville, Howell Mountain, Rutherford. Across the board, we’re seeing beautiful cluster structure and balance in our Cabernets, and they’re all enjoying a slow and steady hang time. I think we’re going to see the steps we took in the vineyard reflected in the vintage quality. Cabernet is really going to be the sweet spot.”
As all of our wineries gear up for what McCarthy predicts will be a “fast and furious harvest season,” we invite you to raise a glass of your favorite Napa Valley wine from vintages past and toast our incredible vineyard and cellar teams, along with the first fruits of our 2021 vintage! And if you have never reserved a wine tasting during the harvest season, it’s truly a special time to experience wine country. Whether you want to discover the masterful winemaking heritage of Far Niente and taste our legendary Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon or you're looking to explore Nickel & Nickel's single-vineyard wines from Napa Valley's most exciting AVAs, we would love to host you at our Napa Valley wineries.
“I can speak confidently that everyone is very excited about this harvest and looking forward to making some world class wines.” – Michael Accurso, EnRoute and Post & Beam Winemaker
In anticipation of our annual Cave Collection release, we sat down with Winemaker Nicole Marchesi to talk about Far Niente's Cave Collection and the keys to making age-worthy Napa Valley Cabernet. Read on to hear what she has to say. Then mark your calendars for the January 17 release from Far Niente's Cave Collection. This year’s allocation is one of our most limited to date, with less than 100 bottles available for our most sought-after vintages.
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