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Sonoma County 2007 Harvest Report

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Sonoma County 2007 Harvest Report
By Rhonda J. Smith
UC Cooperative Extension

The year will be remembered for an early and long harvest that started the first week of August for sparkling wine and finished the first week of November. It will also be remembered for its light crop. Weather was cool and in some places extremely windy during the critical bloom period, thus fewer flowers "set" and berries were small, resulting in lighter cluster weights. Yields were down across the county, and most growers harvested 10-30% less fruit than average.

Ideal weather conditions in mid-August continued through the first week of September, and coupled with a lighter crop caused many vineyards to be harvested early and growers to anticipate a short season. Then cool temperatures slowed the pace, with about half the acreage remaining. Picking gradually increased in late September, dodging a few showers, and then wet weather beginning Oct. 10 inspired a consistent flow of fruit into wineries. In some growing regions, the total rainfall in September and October exceeded 3 inches, yet most growers managed to avoid significant crop loss from botrytis.

Alexander Valley Looking East

January 2007 had under an inch of rain, and mid-month low temperatures in the 20s Fahrenheit. Some vineyards had mild winter injury, with delayed or erratic bud break; however very few vines lost buds. More than 2 inches of rain fell in mid-April, the last significant precipitation prior to harvest. Temperatures were mostly moderate, with a warm period in late June/early July. A few hillside vineyards lost their water supply when springs and wells ran dry.

Vineyard irrigation strategies were the focus of the Sonoma County Water Agency, which was ordered by the state Water Resources Control Board to reduce the amount of water removed from Lake Mendocino by 15% between July 1 and Oct. 28, compared to the same period in 2004. This ensured adequate flow in the Russian River for the fall Chinook salmon run.

Moderate temperatures resulted in long stretches of days with a moderate to high powdery mildew risk index; however, few sites had control problems. Mite pressure was low, but grape mealybug populations were higher in some vineyards than previously.
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