From the order in which we pick our grapes, to each step after that. Here’s a go-to guide about how the wines you love leave the vine and make it to bottle.
Making wine is no easy feat, and a great deal of science and institutional wisdom is required. Chandon recently kicked off its 50th harvest! For a limited time, guests can have one of the most unique harvest experiences at Chandon.
A sunrise breakfast with the team, accompanied by wines from the vines that surround you, and a fascinating tour of the vineyards.
Come late September onward, and it’s all hands on deck for most St. Helena wineries, often known as “cab country.” Winemakers have been checking their fruit daily, monitoring brix levels, color, size, and tracking weather. Many consider timing the single most important decision a winemaker makes each year.
Once all the grapes are in, it’s time to sort them. While some wineries use fancy technology like optic sorters, many continue the tried and true method of hand sorting their fruit. Every grape that goes into the bottle is carefully chosen to make the finest Napa Valley wines. Voted “winery of the year” by Wine and Spirits Magazine, Whitehall Lane Winery is one of the most recommended tours and tastings during the season.
Following grape sorting, comes crush. This is the moment you can see and SMELL wine being made. 2023 is the year that Grgich Hills Estate brings back its iconic grape stomp. Relish in your Lucille Ball moment as you jump in a barrel and stomp your way through harvest. If you miss out at Grgich Hills, mark your calendar for the September 30th and October 7th “CRUSH IT” Festival at The Estate Yountville.
The harvest rush settles, and the real winemaking begins. Beakers come out, and cellars are busy. From fermentation to pump-overs, there are beautiful complexities and details that create the perfect bottle of wine. Cave tours and barrel sampling can be found at Pride Mountain Vineyard, or gaze from above at stainless steel tanks full of grape juice at Hall St. Helena.
Be a “winemaker for the day” and create your own custom blend with juice from Raymond Vineyards’ 300-acre estate vineyards. Take home your custom bottle, or buy a case- an unforgettable St. Helena souvenir.
The picking of grapes is often done in the cool hours of the night, or the rising of the sun, amidst the morning fog across the valley.
For a first-hand view of Napa Valley’s most anticipated time, here are three stays that will guarantee you witness the best of wine country’s harvest action.
- Starting with Harvest Inn, located minutes from St. Helena’s Historic Shopping District. Watch boots on the ground from your private patio jacuzzi, which is also the best place for harvest star gazing.
- Immerse yourself into all aspects of harvest action when you book the Inn at Salvestrin, the historic home of Dr. Crane, at Salvestrin Winery. Where else can you stay at a working winery and sleep above Napa Valley’s oldest vines?
- For an uber-lux, worth every penny, experience – choose the vineyard suites at Alila Napa Valley. Watch grape-picking from your patio lounge as you order in-room dining.