The stages of harvest in the Napa Valley

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Each year at the end of summer, the Napa Valley comes alive with the excitement and rush of harvest. After months of careful nurturing and observation, winemakers all over the valley finally give the word, “it’s time.”

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.