Earlier this summer, the Napa Valley was on track to be one of the world’s luckiest wine regions this year, having escaped everything from hail to flames to grape-gobbling wild boar.
Then a scorch, record-breaking heat wave with temperatures up to 117 (!) degrees Fahrenheit swept in and stuck around over Labor Day weekend, upending vintners’ expectations. In its wake, winemakers were left with plenty of shriveled grapes and worries about both quality and quantity, despite a cool spell this week that’s now slackening the harvest.
Welcome to wine’s new normal: extreme weather events. They influenced this year’s harvest everywhere from Germany and France to Italy and Chile last spring and, at the last minute, Napa and Sonoma.” I’ve never seen a vintage like this ,” acknowledged Cathy Corison of Corison Winery in Napa, who is on her 43 rd season.