As many took time this holiday weekend to reflect on 2016 and on what they’re thankful for, those in the Central Coast wine industry say they’re thankful for what appears to be another good year.
Despite the ongoing drought, and other serious challenges facing the industry, wineries and winemakers report a robust, top quality grape harvest.
At Central Coast Wine Services in Santa Maria, grapes grown across the Central Coast are trucked in to be processed, pressed, tanked, fermented and stored or barreled in oak to eventually become wine that’s bottled and shipped on a very large scale for dozens of customers.
“We had a great year this year”, says Central Coast Wine Services winemaker Richard Shelton, “it was a really good harvest, it was up, all of our numbers were up and we did about double the tons we did last year, so on this side we did around 5,000, almost 6,000 tons.”
And not only a bountiful harvest, but also an early one with top quality grapes.
“The thing we saw this year is we had really good fruit sets in the vineyard”, Shelton says, “we had a little bit less freeze days than last year, the rains held off long enough, we were able to get in a great crop, its looking like a long year, so a lot of people had top quality, top volume.”
“We had some great quality this year especially, good color, good acid”, adds Glen Caughell with Central Coast Wine Services, “everything that makes a wine nice and balanced.”
The ongoing drought has not had the impact on wine grape production and quality as much as it has had on other ag crops and livestock.
“We get to a certain point where we are really being delicate with the amount of water we want the vines to have”, Caughell says, “so it is a crop that can tolerate some drought conditions and sometimes it can benefit as well.”
2016 is expected to be another quality year for Central Coast wines whenever they come on the market years from now.
“We keep expecting these years to have a year that’s really off”, Shelton says, “the last three, four years have just been absolutely fantastic.”