POSTED ON September 21, 2008 | IN Russian River Wine Country - Sonoma Cty., Wine Information | BY Joe Becerra

We have been here on Limerick Lane at the northern end of the Russian River Valley for three weeks. Our stay is over and we have witnessed an amazing frenzy of harvest activity the first ten days of our stay. Several days of over 100 degree weather ripened grapes, especially Zinfandel, almost all at once.

It took a massive effort by all to harvest the sugar-ready grapes, sort them, crush them, and get them to the fermenting tanks. Then, Mother Nature did an about face. Our next ten days in the Russian River Valley we woke up to a heavy fog. The fog usually cleared around noon but the daytime temperatures never reached higher than the mid 70’s. This brought harvest to a near dead halt. The grapes that were left, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, now could enjoy more “hang time”as the sugar levels barely moved upward.

We had a chance to visit the Bacigalupi vineyards and get an insider’s tour of this great vineyard of the Russian River Valley. Katie Bacigalupi explained that harvest totals are expected to be down this year because of a variety of climate factors, but the frost of April played a big role in the crop reduction.

In the photo, the small green grapes show the effect of the frost. There are plenty of these on the vineyard we walked through. What will the Zinfandel crop be like? The hot days shot the sugar levels up in no time, so it is a “wait and see” game to know exactly how this wine will fare.

Frost Damaged Grape Cluster

Frost Damaged Grape Cluster

In the back of the house we rented was a small vineyard of Cabernet Franc. The owners of the house promised the grapes to Hawley Vineyards. John Hawley told us that the grapes would be picked the last few days we were at the house and we could help with the harvest. But then, those foggy days came. Sadly, we left for home with the Cab Franc still hanging on the vines.