Quantcast

2020 CA Grape Season

Wine Making Talk

Help Support Wine Making Talk:

Boatboy24

No longer a newbie, but still clueless.
Joined
Mar 18, 2012
Messages
14,181
Reaction score
11,337
Location
DC Suburbs
Trying to copy/paste an email I got from Washington Winemakers. Hopefully, it comes through in a readable format. Some interesting bits about this very interesting season and how Lodi fared.




November 2020​
Dear Jim,

This is our first Newsletter since July. We apologize for no updates before and during the harvest season. Circumstances were changing so quickly that, at times, we did not know how the circumstances would affect us and the harvest. Between the effects of the Covid-19 lockdowns, the long and high heat wave, the lightness of some of the crops, the anomaly of the Lodi District, the trucking-freight situation and ultimately the California Fires were constant questions that had no immediate answers.​

The Covid-19 Lockdown

We did not know initially how Covid-19 would affect our business. As we started to talk to a lot of our winery customers, we were surprised to find that wineries that had commercial distribution for their wines were having an increase in their sales and were eager buyers for grapes. Those wineries that relied solely on tasting room sales and other social gathering events were very skeptical and understandably cautious. We did have some wineries that have been ordering grapes from us for years but were not able to do so this year.

When we started to talk to our distributors, they seemed to have the same indications from their customers—they desired to make homemade wine more than ever. I guess it reflected the significant increase of off-the-shelf wine sales. The public was staying at home and drinking more. Home winemaking also provided families with time together and perhaps passing on of traditions. Everyone was concerned how the distributors would handle Covid-19 protocols in their facilities. Most distributors did not have a problem mainly by having customers preorder their grapes.​

The Light Grape Crops

From the very beginning, it was obvious that almost all varieties were going to be short on production. Some proved to be short as high as 70% of their typical crop production. The heat obviously had a big effect. We usually harvest up to 3 vineyards of Old Vine Zinfandel and Merlot. This year it was 6 vineyards to yield the same tonnage. The heat also caused some Cabernet vineyards to wither before sugar development and we had to find other sources. We were lucky to find sufficient volume of high quality grapes in a timely fashion for all varieties. We probably inspected more vineyards than ever before and were kept busy visiting many vineyards.​

The Anomaly of the Lodi Grape District

At the start of the year there was a tremendous over abundance of wine and the prospect for most growers without contracts was not very good. There were a lot of grapes left on the vines in 2019 and growers pulled out their marginal vineyards. They were concerned that they may not have a buyer for their grapes. Then Covid-19 struck, the lockdowns started, and everything changed. In stores, sales for wine grew at high percentages. In the spring, the large wineries saw this change and started to offer contracts for Cabernet Sauvignon all over the Lodi District. Grant you they were at prices lower than the historical prices of the past few years but respectable. They were not buying grapes from any other region. As we have said in the past, the Lodi District gives winemakers the best quality for the price.

This anomaly was not apparent for the other varieties until later in the season. Once the realization took effect that there was a dramatic lack of production of all varieties, they aggressively tried to buy anything they could get their hands on. At the end of the season they even harvested some vineyards that were not pruned! There was not a vineyard in Lodi that was not picked.​

We hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoys the day with loved ones (and hopefully some homemade wine!). Stay safe and hopefully next year we will all be able to celebrate the holidays without Covid-19.

The Colavitas​

The Long Heatwaves
California had some of its longest and hottest heat waves in late August and early September ever experienced. Growers had to irrigate their vineyards constantly in order to keep their crops from withering. With the heat, Chardonnay matured very early and, for the very first time, we didn’t harvest any Chardonnay this season. They were just too early and did not do well after the heat. Also, after heat and irrigation, sugar development was hindered throughout the season. It persisted in almost all varieties. Some vineyards, especially some Syrah, never did get the desired sugar.


The Fires​

The California fires were devastating to the coastal wine districts. From the southern to the northern coastal counties, most vineyards were never picked. Smoke taint was and is a very existential problem in those areas. The Lodi district did not experience any ash or low-lying smoke. There was a long period of high haze that did obstruct direct sunlight. The only effect of this high haze seems to have been responsible for the slow sugar maturation over the area.


The Trucking/Freight Situation
Logistics was a problem through out the season. With restaurants being closed, a lot of refrigerated trucks did not have food service shipments coming back to California. Because of no return freight, rates increased from $2000 to $3000 for Eastern shipments out of California. LTL rates also increased proportionally. At one time we were very frustrated that we could not get our orders out to our customers. Eventually everyone got their grapes except for a few customers in Florida.​


 

mainshipfred

Junior Member
WMT Supporter
Joined
Feb 25, 2017
Messages
4,018
Reaction score
2,663
Location
Centerville, Northern Virginia
Trying to copy/paste an email I got from Washington Winemakers. Hopefully, it comes through in a readable format. Some interesting bits about this very interesting season and how Lodi fared.





November 2020​

Dear Jim,

This is our first Newsletter since July. We apologize for no updates before and during the harvest season. Circumstances were changing so quickly that, at times, we did not know how the circumstances would affect us and the harvest. Between the effects of the Covid-19 lockdowns, the long and high heat wave, the lightness of some of the crops, the anomaly of the Lodi District, the trucking-freight situation and ultimately the California Fires were constant questions that had no immediate answers.​



The Covid-19 Lockdown

We did not know initially how Covid-19 would affect our business. As we started to talk to a lot of our winery customers, we were surprised to find that wineries that had commercial distribution for their wines were having an increase in their sales and were eager buyers for grapes. Those wineries that relied solely on tasting room sales and other social gathering events were very skeptical and understandably cautious. We did have some wineries that have been ordering grapes from us for years but were not able to do so this year.

When we started to talk to our distributors, they seemed to have the same indications from their customers—they desired to make homemade wine more than ever. I guess it reflected the significant increase of off-the-shelf wine sales. The public was staying at home and drinking more. Home winemaking also provided families with time together and perhaps passing on of traditions. Everyone was concerned how the distributors would handle Covid-19 protocols in their facilities. Most distributors did not have a problem mainly by having customers preorder their grapes.​



The Light Grape Crops

From the very beginning, it was obvious that almost all varieties were going to be short on production. Some proved to be short as high as 70% of their typical crop production. The heat obviously had a big effect. We usually harvest up to 3 vineyards of Old Vine Zinfandel and Merlot. This year it was 6 vineyards to yield the same tonnage. The heat also caused some Cabernet vineyards to wither before sugar development and we had to find other sources. We were lucky to find sufficient volume of high quality grapes in a timely fashion for all varieties. We probably inspected more vineyards than ever before and were kept busy visiting many vineyards.​



The Anomaly of the Lodi Grape District

At the start of the year there was a tremendous over abundance of wine and the prospect for most growers without contracts was not very good. There were a lot of grapes left on the vines in 2019 and growers pulled out their marginal vineyards. They were concerned that they may not have a buyer for their grapes. Then Covid-19 struck, the lockdowns started, and everything changed. In stores, sales for wine grew at high percentages. In the spring, the large wineries saw this change and started to offer contracts for Cabernet Sauvignon all over the Lodi District. Grant you they were at prices lower than the historical prices of the past few years but respectable. They were not buying grapes from any other region. As we have said in the past, the Lodi District gives winemakers the best quality for the price.

This anomaly was not apparent for the other varieties until later in the season. Once the realization took effect that there was a dramatic lack of production of all varieties, they aggressively tried to buy anything they could get their hands on. At the end of the season they even harvested some vineyards that were not pruned! There was not a vineyard in Lodi that was not picked.​



We hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoys the day with loved ones (and hopefully some homemade wine!). Stay safe and hopefully next year we will all be able to celebrate the holidays without Covid-19.

The Colavitas​
The Long Heatwaves​

California had some of its longest and hottest heat waves in late August and early September ever experienced. Growers had to irrigate their vineyards constantly in order to keep their crops from withering. With the heat, Chardonnay matured very early and, for the very first time, we didn’t harvest any Chardonnay this season. They were just too early and did not do well after the heat. Also, after heat and irrigation, sugar development was hindered throughout the season. It persisted in almost all varieties. Some vineyards, especially some Syrah, never did get the desired sugar.​


The Fires​


The California fires were devastating to the coastal wine districts. From the southern to the northern coastal counties, most vineyards were never picked. Smoke taint was and is a very existential problem in those areas. The Lodi district did not experience any ash or low-lying smoke. There was a long period of high haze that did obstruct direct sunlight. The only effect of this high haze seems to have been responsible for the slow sugar maturation over the area.

The Trucking/Freight Situation​

Logistics was a problem through out the season. With restaurants being closed, a lot of refrigerated trucks did not have food service shipments coming back to California. Because of no return freight, rates increased from $2000 to $3000 for Eastern shipments out of California. LTL rates also increased proportionally. At one time we were very frustrated that we could not get our orders out to our customers. Eventually everyone got their grapes except for a few customers in Florida.​





I was pleasantly surprised of the fruit I received from WW considering my concerns of the quality we get from group buys. For some reason all of my local fruit had a very low pH. I think it will turn out fine but a lot lower than past years.
 

Latest posts

Top