Every year in the Napa Valley, the earlier-ripening Pinot Noir is the first grape to be harvested and in the rocky soils south of Oakville Cross Road, Mumm‘s vines are the first to be picked. Crews headed out before dawn yesterday to hand harvest what looks to be a shy vintage relative to the bounty of the last three years, but with the same great quality. By the end of the morning, 12.1 tons of fruit had been delivered to the crush pad compared to 16 tons last year.
For Mumm, harvest is 3-4 weeks earlier than normal due to the early start to the season when conditions were relatively warm and the soils dry. This was followed by a longer, cooler period which resulted in uneven shoot elongation, flowering and fruit set.
The keys to quality according to Dervin, was a lot of “carving and polishing” in the vineyards during the season. To even-out berry ripening in the clusters, Mumm needed to thin out the less-ripe clusters before veraison. Green-thinning in part contributed to the vintage’s lower yields.
Drier vintage conditions also delivered quality in the fruit due to smaller clusters and more open canopies that allowed sunlight and aeration into the vines. Dervin said there was little disease pressure so far this year.
Dervin sees these vintage conditions in their other vineyards – across all grape varieties – with Chardonnay expected to be harvested in the next 8-10 days. At this point, Dervin expects a clean, healthy and low-yield harvest which for me portends a vintage with a divine purity of fruit.