Harvest Time at Napa Wineries and Vineyards

Wine clubs learn about the harvest

Napa wineries in St. Helena, CA

Grape harvest season in Napa Valley is upon us. Already, the winemakers have tested the first few grapes to see if they’re ripe. Sometimes the grapes are harvested mechanically, but other times they’re harvested by hand. This latter approach is obviously a lot more work, but in many cases the result is a much better wine. Mechanical harvesting involves shaking the grapes until they fall off the vine, which can rupture some of them.

However the grapes are harvested, they have to be sorted by hand. Grapes that are green, moldy or shriveled have to be removed. Then they’re taken to the winery to be crushed — a process which is much shorter if the winery is at the vineyards.

Wine clubs sometimes hold tours of vineyards and Napa wineries to give their members the opportunity to learn about this process from the people who do it. This will increase your appreciation of the interconnected arts of viticulture and winemaking. Since everyone in the winery is busy right now, this is a better time to schedule a tour for later in the year than to hold one. Tasting is a part of these tours. Tasting fees can be anywhere from $5 to $50 per person — more if you plan on including lunch or an educational experience such as a tour, class or seminar. Tipping is not necessary, but if you’re a member of a large group you may wish to do it anyway.

One of the best Napa wineries near St. Helena

Some of the best California wines come from Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa Valley. Just a 10-minute drive from downtown St. Helena, these vineyards produce world-class wines at affordable prices. The vineyard is a 40-acre estate just south of Howell Mountain. Instead of a busy tasting room, the vineyard offers you the chance to meet the owners and wine-makers and taste excellent wine stored in a cave. Wine Merchants Gourmet includes them in one of its Middle Valley tours.

An example of what this winery has to offer is the Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that comes only from the best of the vintage. The 2011 Signature Cab is an intensely dark purple and red wine with an intense aroma of dark berries, smoke, blue flowers, anise and other spices, tar and minerals. It tastes as good as it smells, with a fruity palate of blackberries and blueberries with hints of violets, licorice and smoke. This is a rare vintage, produced in a cool year when yields were low.

Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards has been owned and operated by the Anderson family since 1983. Anderson’s wines are sold online and in five locations in Napa Valley, and many other locations nationwide. By ordering six bottles or more per year, you can join their wine club, giving you discounts on many of their finest wines.