Harvest Time in Wine Country

Vineyard harvest first batch of pinot noir as state fair fun ends and wine country gets to work

By Jackson West
|  Monday, Aug 10, 2009  |  Updated 12:15 PM PDT
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Harvest Time in Wine Country

Jessica Merz

The hard, hot work of harvest season has kicked off in wine country.

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The Sonoma County Harvest Fair came to a close on Sunday, but in the pre-dawn hours on Monday the actual harvest kicked off in earnest.

The first batch of this year's North Coast pinot noir vintage was leaving the vines and heading for the vats in a vineyard south of Glen Ellen, Calif.

A relatively cool summer has delayed the harvest by a week, but not necessarily reduced production.

And while the wines started this year won't hit the market for a while, wineries are already dealing with a depressed market, at least for the high end market.

So an abundance of fresh grapes means low prices, and an abundance of ready wine also means low prices, which may leave growers and producers strapped for cash in the midst of a credit crunch.

And the depressed economy isn't just bad news for vintners -- it's also bad news for farmers, generally.

Prices for livestock raised by young farmers were significantly lower than last year, and across the country, Americans are cutting back on purchasing organic produce -- of which California is the leading producer.

It's enough to drive the folks in wine country to hit the bottle. For the rest of us, it's time to hit the farmer's markets to cash in on bargains and directly support our local growers.

Photo by Jessica Merz.

Jackson West .

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