How will the Sonoma and Napa Fires Affect the 2017 wine vintage?
As most know by now, late in the evening on Sunday, October 8th, Sonoma County, Napa County and Mendocino County were ravaged by some of the most devastating wildfires in California history.
Now that the fires are nearly contained, many have asked about the impact they will have on the 2017 wine vintage. To answer this question and provide an update on the 2017 harvest, we asked our Winemaster, Randy Ullom.
“We just wrapped up harvest at Kendall-Jackson and it’s been an exciting year from the beginning! The year began with rain – a welcome relief after years of drought. We had our highs and lows with temperatures throughout the year, and a statewide heat spike in September led the way into harvest for us. After the initial heat wave, slightly cooler temperatures prevailed which moderated everything, resulting in a very smooth, evenly spaced harvest. We brought in grapes as they were at optimal ripeness and the flavors are extraordinary! As the wines begin to ferment we’re excited to see what wines they produce.
In Sonoma County, the flavor profiles are wonderful. We were blessed with the fact that we were very nearly done with harvest at the time of the great firestorm and we are confident the quality from this vintage will be excellent.”
As Randy mentioned, the majority of our grapes were harvested before the wildfires began and all the wine that was in tanks and barrels before the fires will be unaffected. Thus we expect the 2017 harvest to have the exceptional quality and style Kendall-Jackson is known for.
We are extremely fortunate in that none of our facilities were damaged in the fires. And vineyards throughout Wine Country resisted the spread of wildfire – acting as natural fire breaks.
As is the case for many wineries in the area, our Jackson Family sister wineries in Mendocino, Sonoma and Napa counties also had neared completion of harvest prior to the fires. In fact, seventy percent of our Chardonnay fruit was already in with the remaining grapes all in California’s Central Coast, far from the location of the fires. Among other grape varieites, Pinot Noir was all harvested, as was over seventy percent of our Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot. Roughly fifty percent of our Cabernet Sauvignon was in and the quality of this fruit will be unaffected.
One thing is for certain, the impact of this disaster will continue to affect Wine Country for years to come. While we were fortunate enough to escape the fires with minimal impact, we continue to support our community in any way we can.
We also encourage you to support Wine Country by continuing to visit and buy wines from Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino.
If there has been a silver lining in the wake of this disaster, it has shown us the resiliency of our community. From the heroic efforts of first-responders, to the hundreds of volunteers that offered shelter and aid to those who were evacuated from their homes, to neighbors and friends supporting one another, we truly are #SonomaStrong.
Photography by Constance Higley