Each year from August through October, Napa Valley comes alive with the excitement and rush of harvest.
Tending to the grapevines is a year-round process, but this is the time when the vineyards and the wineries bustle with workers racing to pick grapes at their peak ripeness.
Cheers to #Harvest2023!
Why is Harvest season a great time to visit Napa Valley?
Harvest season is simply a fun time of year to visit Napa Valley – the valley is abuzz with activity, and the wonderful smell of fermenting wine is everywhere!
Each year between August and October, we celebrate the newest crop of grapes to come off the vines. It's a momentous event for Napa Valley winemakers and a race to pick the fruit at its peak, and ultimately create the world-class wines that have put Napa Valley on a global stage. Join in the celebration by attending harvest party events and special immersive experiences throughout Napa Valley.
If you are visiting Napa Valley during this peak travel time, be sure to make reservations in advance for wine tastings and dining! During your tastings, you might also have an opportunity for special tours to watch the winery production facilities in action, especially if the winery's vineyard crew just picked grapes that morning.
Harvest 2023 officially started on August 16
St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery harvested Sauvignon Blanc grapes early on August 16, the first on record for the 2023 Napa Valley harvest season. This year, harvest started a couple weeks later than usual – the rainier-than-usual winter and cool spring seasons meant the grapes flowered late and needed a little more time to ripen on the vines.
2023 Napa Valley Harvest
Did You Know? Grapes are usually picked overnight while you're sleeping.
The cooler temperatures at night are the most ideal conditions for making quality wine. Heat can cause grape sugars to increase, affecting the balance of sugar and acidity in the grapes. Cooler temperatures preserve the freshness and quality of the grapes after they are picked. Nighttime temps are also more comfortable for the vineyard workers – harvesting is labor-intensive work!
The Stages of Harvest
Grapes for sparkling wines are the usually first to be picked, often in early August, marking the start of "crush". And soon after, most of the white wines make their way from the vineyard to the crush pad.
Harvest continues through late October – sometimes early November – for red varieties, as they take a bit longer to reach full maturation. Harvesting of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the Napa Valley begins later than most other varieties and typically lasts the longest.
Late-harvest wines are made from grapes left on the vine longer than usual, allowing them to get riper and produce more highly concentrated sugars. Harvesting of these grapes can last until December.
The conclusion of harvest leads into Cabernet Season, where the winemakers can finally take a moment to relax and appreciate the fruits of their labor.
The Harvest Process
Vineyard crews work morning and night throughout the vineyards to deliver the year's crop to the crushpads
Harvest workers sort the grapes, removing leaves, twigs, bugs, unripe and damaged fruit
After crushing and pressing, the grapes ferment on their skins – this process can last days to a month
The wine is finally set to age in barrels or steel tanks – this process can last months to years