Wednesday, August 4, 2010


The summer of 2010 has been an exceptional year for growing redwood trees and rhododendrons; however, the unusually cold weather has proved to be a challengefor wine grapes.

Those who farm Sonoma County vineyards along the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley have seen temperatures hover in the 60s and 70s, as opposed to 80s and 90s, for most of the growing season. At this point, the unusual weather pattern has had only positive effects on the quality of the fruit slowly growing on the vines. The late start to grape maturation, however, has growers concerned about wrapping up the harvest before the fall rains appear in October.

While much of the nation wilts under high temperatures, a low-pressure weather system has been parked off the North Coast of California, pumping moderating air and coastal fog into the hills and valleys of Sonoma County throughout June and July.

“We pride ourselves on growing grapes in the cool climate of the Russian River Valley,” says J Viticulturalist John Erbe, “but this cold summer weather has put the brakes on a harvest that typically would have already started.”

John Erbe, J Viticulturalist

“Verasion is taking place in most of our Pinot Noir vineyards, and that generally means we will begin harvest in about 30-45 days,” says Erbe. “Our concerns will ease should a warmer summer weather pattern arrive. At this stage, we expect to be picking grapes for our sparkling wine just before Labor Day, a good two to three weeks late.”

Verasion in Nicole’s Vineyard

J Vineyards & Winery is one of the few producers in California to make both sparkling and varietal wines. Located on Old Redwood Highway south of Healdsburg, J focuses on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, farmed on its ten estate vineyards sprinkled throughout the Russian River Valley. In recent years an emphasis has been placed on developing a varietal wine program uniquely separate from its famed sparkling wines.

The winery, founded by Judy Jordan in 1986, will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary next year. To learn more about the winery, or to join the J Wine Club, please call (707) 431-3646, or go to

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