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Paso Robles winemakers excited about results of later harvest

Posted at 6:44 PM, Nov 15, 2018

Harvest has officially come to a close for vineyards in Paso Robles.

Overall, grapes took longer to ripen this year but winemakers say the wait was worth it.

We talked with a couple of winemakers who said they’re anticipating some of their best wines ever from this year’s vintage.

The grapes have been plucked from the vines and the winemaking process begins for Summerwood Winery and Inn Winemaker Mauricio Marchant.

“The tank is full of grapes and juice and we’re just moving it to make sure that the grapes get in contact with the juice,” Marchant showed us. “We do this about five times a day.”

In early July, vineyards were faced with a heat wave. However, Marchant says from mid-July up until last week, we’ve had extremely wine grape-friendly weather.

“So that nice weather allowed for the maturity to catch up to the sugars,” Marchant explained.

He’s been making wine for eight years at Summerwood.

During this harvest, they saw different varietals ripen at unusual times. They usually harvest the grenache blanc first with harvest kicking off in September, but not this year.

“The first week of September I had syrah in the tanks and the grenache blanc was not even close to being ready,” Marchant said.

Many in the industry have joked that 2018 was the harvest that wouldn’t end.

“It’s maybe more the harvest that didn’t want to start,” joked Kevin Jussila, Owner and Winemaker of Kukkula.

He says harvest started four weeks late for them, but the longer hang times have allowed the grapes to slowly develop more flavors and stronger colors.

“Everything was perfect for the reds but the whites struggled a little bit because of that heat,” Marchant said.

He says it won’t be clear until six to eight months from now what the wines are going to be like.

And while it’s true that winemakers usually don’t predict the quality of a vintage before the wine has time to age, Marchant said, “The reds are fantastic. They will be probably some of the best reds I’ve ever made.”

Jussila echoed that optimism, specifically about the chemistry of the fruit with lower pH’s and acid levels being really good.

“This is probably the first time that I’m willing to say that I think that this is just an amazing vintage and possibly the best vintage that I’ve experienced in the 14 years since I’ve started this project,” Jussila added.

As far as the fruits of their labor, Summerwood’s wines are expected to be available in 12 to 24 months. Kukkula’s wines will be available in 24 to 36 months.