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Wine grape harvest begins in Paso Robles 

The harvest begins at Thacher Winery. Courtesy photo.

Harvest 2021 begins across North County AVAs

–The outlook is reportedly “epic” for Vintage 2021 despite the ongoing drought. Solterra Strategies, a boutique public relations firm representing wineries, tourism destinations and marquee wine events throughout the Central Coast, has shared this harvest status report from top winemakers and industry experts working throughout the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area (AVA).

Overall, thanks to a relatively temperate growing season, the timing of the 2021 harvest is about week or two later than in recent years, with most pulling the first of the core white wine grapes in late August or last week.

While the region has seen smoke from wildfires up north, it has not affected the vineyards in Paso Robles, report growers and experts in Paso Robles.

The ongoing drought conditions (this growing season saw just two significant rain days this winter) are presenting growers with a double-edged sword of sorts. The good news is the dry conditions this year are creating smaller, more concentrated grapes, which is ideal for winemaking. While this can lower overall yields, it produces more flavors, bolder colors, strong acidity and manageable tannins. These conditions have winemakers feeling quite bullish for Vintage 2021, with many predicting an epic year for quality.

However, many winemakers expressed concerns for the next vintage: Another year of scant rain could begin to pose problems for winegrowing.

Alta Colina

Alta Colina Winemaker Molly Lonborg foot stomping the 1st Viognier. Photo credit Alta Colina.

Many winemakers say labor and staffing shortages have been major challenges this year, a phenomenon that has beleaguered many industries across the country.

“It’s been a funny season,” Bob Tillman of Alta Colina said, “Despite average heat unit accumulation prior to veraison (period of time when berries accumulate color and sugar), we ran about two weeks behind normal for color to show up. However, once veraison started, the vines stomped the pedal to the metal. We are now setting at absolutely normal development for this point in the season.”

“With a drier winter season this year, (receiving the bulk of our rain in one two-day storm this winter), the plants are reacting with much smaller berries,” said Sherman Thacher of Thacher Winery, “This will likely result in lighter crop loads, but also concentrated wines, which we like.”

For the complete Q and A from local winemakers, click here.

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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at