The best time of year in Napa Valley is always harvest season. The harvest season occurs between August and October every year and you may hear it called crush season. When Napa Valley is getting ready for the transition from veraison to harvest, it can be a busy but exciting time to visit.
What Is Veraison?
In wine lingo, veraison is the onset of the ripening of grapes. During this period, the grapes begin changing their color from green to purple and become a much softer fruit. When veraison occurs, the growth of the grapes stops and they focus all their energy on ripening and getting ready for the harvest period.
The process of veraison usually takes around a week for an entire field of grapes to fully ripen and be ready for harvesting. When a vineyard reaches about 80% done with veraison, harvesting is just about three or four weeks away. The more consistent the ripening of the grapes is, the better quality the harvest is likely to be.
What Is Harvest?
Once the grapes have successfully gone through veraison, it’s time for harvesting. Harvesting begins with the step of picking the grapes. Winemakers will check the quality of their grapes to ensure they are in perfect condition for winemaking.
The most traditional method of grape picking is hand picking. This is a slower process but does ensure that each grape is handled carefully as it’s picked from the vine. It’s much less common than it used to be, though it’s still required with certain grape types. Another way to harvest grapes is with the use of machines. These have been used since the 1960s and are most common in hot wine regions as well as on large grape fields.
Whichever method is chosen, most grapes are harvested at night. This is because the sugars inside the grapes are more stable when they aren’t exposed to sunlight. The grapes must be harvested at the perfect time because their harvesting determines the tannins, sugar, and acid when it comes to creating wine.
What to Expect in Napa Valley
If you’re visiting during harvest season, you may notice that many great activities are happening that you can take part in. Harvest season is often recognized as the best time to visit the area. There are opportunities to take part in grape smashing, harvest dinners, and other seasonal activities. Plus, the weather is wonderful during the harvest season, with temperatures usually only reaching the 70s every month.
Make sure to look for local wineries that are offering tours of their grounds. This can give you an inside look at what the harvesting process looks like. Many wineries will allow you to check out their wine cellar and see their winemakers working. You may even get to try wine right out of a barrel!
Harvest season is also a great time to dine in Napa Valley. The area’s cuisine focuses on using both local and seasonal ingredients and harvest season sees a surplus of crops to choose from. Make sure you make reservations for any local restaurant you want to try.
Harvest season in Napa Valley is an exciting time for visitors and locals alike. No matter which events you take part in while you’re here, make sure to stop by ELLMAN Family Vineyards in Napa. Reserve a private tasting in our tasting room and see why harvest season is such a big deal in Napa Valley.
ELLMAN is a family-owned winery in Napa and is one of the most beautiful Napa Wineries that is open currently. ELLMAN works with Andy Erickson to create elegant wines to be enjoyed by all types of people - try our wine at one of our Downtown Napa tasting rooms. You can learn more about our story here, or check out our membership options on this page to learn how to get started and ellevate your cellar with us.
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