Each year from August through October, the 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.
The entire valley is filled with the wonderful smells of harvest and you'll find ideal warm autumn weather.
The Stages of Harvest
Grapes for sparkling wines are the first to be picked, usually in early August, marking the start of "crush". Next, 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