Sonoma County Harvest 2012 Report: A Great Vintage for Sonoma County Wines

Picture perfect Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma Valley's Kunde Family Estate. Photo: Kunde Family Estate


With harvest wrapped up for most of Sonoma County, bringing what is being called a textbook perfect growing season to a close, Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Winegrowers are issuing their third and final harvest update from the perspectives of vintners and growers based in the region’s largest appellations, accompanied by comments from Nick Frey, President, Sonoma County Winegrowers.

Alexander Valley

“Since my last report on October 17, we have had about 1.75 inches of rain at Robert Young Vineyards in northern Alexander Valley. It seems that this year, the red grapes have handled the rain exposure very well. We are expecting to finish up harvest with our remaining Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc October 29. We are finding tremendous flavors have developed in the fruit from the overall ideal weather this season. I think this will prove to be an outstanding vintage once the new wines are fully evaluated.” — Jim Young, President/CEO, Robert Young Vineyards

“2012 has been a very good vintage. We finished our last block on Thursday, October 18. The fruit quality was excellent and yields in our vineyards were up 20-30%. The resulting wines are tasting excellent, as well.” — Brad Peterson, Vineyard Manager, Rawah Vineyards

Sonoma Valley

“We just finished harvesting our estate vineyards at Kunde on October 30. We haven’t seen such a tremendous harvest in terms of both volume and quantity in years! Our white varietals come in showing beautiful flavors, and our Cabernet and Zinfandel fruit has exceptional color, flavor, and quality. Our biggest issue has been tank space due to the bounty of this harvest, but we’re squeezing by. All of the cards certainly lined up in Mother Nature’s favor this year. Our winemaking team is going to have a lot of fun making exceptional 2012 vintage wines. This is one vintage that consumers are not going to want to miss!” — Marcia Kunde Mickelson, Fourth Generation Winegrower, Kunde Family Estate


“It has been an ideal growing season with mild temperatures and opportune heat spikes to get the grapes to full maturity. We have finished the harvest just in time (October 19) — before Mother Nature delivers the first storm of the season.  We feel very fortunate to get everything in, and most importantly, with the quality at such a high level.” – Steve Sangiacomo, Sangiacomo Family Vineyards

Russian River Valley

“We wrapped up the 2012 J Vineyards & Winery harvest Thursday, October 18, with 15 tons of Russian River Valley chardonnay.  Interestingly enough, we brought in 369 tons of extra grapes that were not counted in our early crop projections. This works out to 17% above initial projections.  Overall, I’d have to say that 2012 may have surpassed 2007 as the ‘perfect vintage’.”-—Melissa Stackhouse, Vice President of Winemaking, J Vineyards & Winery

Dry Creek Valley

“The last of our Cabernet Sauvignon crossed the scale October 27. The last two weeks have been full of long days, but when we needed an adrenalin blast, the Giants came through!  We had settled into a routine of barreling down new reds, pressing off tanks, and refilling them immediately to open up room for more of this year’s abundance. Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel and Cabernet crops were big, but we had done our thinning work, and nature gave us good stretches of warmth in October to bring everything to full ripeness.  Colors and aromas are beautiful in the fermenters. We achieved that win-win situation that makes both growers and wineries happy: a bountiful and high-quality crop made possible by careful work in the vineyard.”  —Tim Bell, Winemaker, Dry Creek Vineyard

Sonoma County Overview

“It has been a great harvest for Sonoma County growers and winemakers. Yields and fruit quality have been exceptional. The rebound in grape yields was badly needed for Sonoma County growers after two harvests with lower than average yields. The record tonnage harvested in Sonoma County was in 2005 with 231,000 tons and 2006 yielded 216,000 tons. I think the 2006 total could be exceeded this year, perhaps reaching 220,000 tons. As we celebrate the 2012 vintage, growers are already beginning to plan for 2013.” – Nick Frey, President, Sonoma County Winegrowers



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