Agriculture is a profession of hope – Brian Brett. Napa, California (1 December 2020) – The Napa Valley sets the gold standard for agriculture. It has been a recognized agricultural reserve for over 50 years and it is estimated that 30 miles of land is cultivated by dedicated winemakers who take care of their vines with attention and innovation. Year after year, despite all the difficulties, the collective goal of the producers of Napa Valley is to adapt, overcome and then produce high quality grapes, and 2020 has not been an exception.

This year, manufacturers in the Napa Valley faced more weather-related challenges than usual, meaning the 2020 growth season was shaped and defined by the way our community came together – to ensure a healthy, resilient workforce and to meet the growing challenges of climate change.

Manufacturers remember that the conditions were ideal at the beginning of 2020 and that the mild temperatures allowed a uniform development of the cluster.  Low winter rainfall resulted in small berries with a concentrated flavour, after which, after early budding and a hot summer, harvesting began in early August.  The growers waited for this year’s heat and had adapted the fencing to provide shade for the fruits during the hottest hours of the day; the upper sprinklers were activated to lower the air temperature, increase humidity and eliminate the risk of dehydration. When the harvest began, gardeners expected normal yields and exceptional fruit quality.

Of course, the preparations for this year’s harvest have been different, because the winemakers have adapted their staff, who mainly work outdoors, to the COVID-19 safety protocols and trained them in strict new labour standards.  To support this project, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) and the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) funded a COVID 19 mobile test vehicle pilot project to test teams of winemakers every two weeks and provided more than 25 units. In addition, the FWF and the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) funded a COVID 19 mobile test vehicle pilot project to test teams of winemakers every two weeks and provided more than 25 mobile test vehicles.

At the height of the pandemic, harvest results were even more controversial than on 17 January. Lightning struck the LNU complex in August and on 27 August. A glass fire broke out in September. Forest fires expose the varieties to smoke and ash and affect the harvest both in the vineyard and in the cellar. The winemakers have worked closely with the wineries on microfermentation and berry sampling and have carried out tests for specific volatile phenols, which are considered to be indicators of smoke colouring. Results vary from place to place and due to delays in laboratory studies and the limits of scientific certainty, producers and wineries have had to make an extremely difficult decision: whether or not to harvest their grapes.

For some hemp growers, the prospect of a greatly reduced harvest or a harvest without grapes with regret was noticed. However, the fruit now ripening in barrels still bear witness to the titanic efforts of the farmers and gardeners of the Napa Valley. Although many aspects of this grape variety remain unknown, winegrowers know that the physiology of the vine is associated with stressful situations. We know that the 2020 harvest will continue to reflect this resilience, and we even have good reason to hope that the resulting wines will reflect the promise of ideal conditions at the start of the season. With decades of experience, farmers have learned to rely on each other, scientists and researchers to support and exchange innovative ideas and knowledge to produce the highest quality vintage under all conditions.

About the Napa Valley Winemakers

NVG is a not-for-profit business organisation that has played an important role in strengthening Napa Valley’s reputation as a world-class wine region for 44 years.  Its mission is to preserve and promote the best vineyards in the Napa Valley. NVG represents 726 Napa County winemakers and related companies.

For more information you can visit the vineyards of the Napa Valley.

Follow Napa Valley Grapegrowers on Facebook and Instagram.


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