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Pinot Noir Harvest in Santa Barbara County

Pinot Noir Harvest in Santa Barbara County

This week in Santa Barbara Wine Country saw the beginning of Pinot Noir Harvest.

Usually, black grapes are harvested much later in the year, with the exception of pinot noir. The reason is due to the thin skin of the pinot noir grapes. These cool climate berries grow successfully in the western most area of Santa Barbara known as the Santa Rita Hills.

All pinot noir producers and growers will tell you they are the most difficult and demanding of grapes to grow.

For example, pinot noir doesn’t like it too hot, as the skin can peel and crack, just like ours when we have too much sun. They don’t like it too cold otherwise, they won’t ripen, also they don’t like it too wet because they are susceptible to mold and mildew.

Due to this finicky behavior, pinot noirs need to be monitored and maintained to a higher degree than any other grape, and this causes their price to be at a premium.

Harvesting Pinot Noir also requires greater attention to detail: smaller picking bins so that the clusters don’t get squashed before arriving at the wineries for processing. Unlike the white grapes like chardonnay that are also being harvested at the same time, pinot noir will spend at least 12 to 18 months in barrels before they are ready to drink.

Santa Barbara County Wine Harvest 2018

Santa Barbara County Wine Harvest 2018

This week saw the beginning of the 2018 harvest here in the Santa Ynez Valley. Normally the white grapes come in earlier than the later ripening red grapes, but some sparkling wine producers have also started to harvest some pinot noir black grapes for their low sugar and crisp acidity. Likewise some have begun to harvest black grapes for their rose wines. On the whole however, these coming weeks will be mostly white grape harvesting. This is the best time of year from now through to mid-October to visit us in the Santa Ynez Valley to get a glimpse how wine is made. Due to the coastal morning fog and the daytime high temperatures, most winemakers prefer to harvest their grapes either at night or very early in the morning. This cooler time of day helps to keep the fruit fresh and cold. After picking, the grapes are taken to the winery where they will be pressed to squeeze the juice out of the skins and then the fermentation process will begin for the clean crisp white wines like riesling, pinot blanc, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.

Join Stagecoach Wine Tours and experience this exciting time of the year in the vineyards!