STORY AND PHOTOS BY TAMARA BERG
Living in California, I think it’s safe to safe to say we’re surrounded by some of the best grapes around. And though grapes are great eaten fresh, if you’re like me, you think about grapes as wine. You see them hanging in the lush vineyards and wonder, when will that be pressed and ready to drink?
Freshly picked grapes
Every August through October, the wine grapes are ready to be picked and processed all around Northern California. One of my favorite places to do wine tasting is in El Dorado County. The foothills are known for producing dozens of award-winning varietals. Barbera, zinfandel, and merlot are just a few of the wine grapes that tend to flourish here.
Grapes get sorted and pushed through the de-stemming machines. After being de-stemmed, they move on to the grape press and are turned into juice
The Boeger family has been making wine for more than four decades in Placerville. Nestled in the Apple Hill area, the Boeger Winery vineyards produce more than 30 different varieties at elevations ranging from 1,600 to 3,000 feet.
As a meteorologist, I can tell you the swings in temperatures with changes in elevation can at times be a cause for concern for vintners.
“There are often several nights during spring where we see freezing temperatures that have the potential of causing frost damage to the vines,” says winemaker and general manager of Boeger Winery Justin Boeger.
Frost, along with many other variables like rain or wildfire, can lead to significant decreases in the yield, which is one of the most important signs of an overall harvest. Low yields of a certain grape can lead to less production of a certain wine and a subsequent increase in price for that bottle. Now that would be something to whine about.
While grapes are generally drought-tolerant plants, rainfall is beneficial at the right times of year. Too much rain, though, can be damaging and lower the yield. This past winter, the rainfall across the region came in close to average — that’s a good thing!
At the time of this writing, Boeger says he and his team are five weeks into the harvest with average to above-average yields across the board. The biggest issue for the 2018 harvest has been excessive growth on the vines. The vineyard crews have had to thin out some of the vines because they’ve been growing too well. It’s not the size of the grapes that’s been a problem; it has been the chutes and canopy around them. They need to be thinned out, or mildew could settle in after rainfall and damage the grapes.
You can expect most of the wine grapes from the 2018 harvest to be processed and ready to bottle by next year. However, if you’re craving a white wine to serve with your Thanksgiving dinner, that will be ready to drink by November.
Legends of Wine at the State Capitol, September 2018
So let’s raise a glass to a great harvest thus far. Cheers to the many local wineries that celebrate the end of their harvests with special tasting events or festivals.
Ready to taste? Check out the Edible Sacramento calendar at Ediblesacramento.com/events to plan out where you can savor some of the flavors of the harvest from last year’s yields.
To plan a trip to Boeger Vineyards, visit Boegerwinery.com.
You may recognize Tamara Berg’s name if you’re a local news viewer. Berg is the weekday morning meteorologist at KCRA 3. When she’s not tracking storms, Berg enjoys eating some of the best foods from around the region. She’s been writing restaurant reports around Northern California for more than five years. Berg loves being outdoors with her husband and attending