Lake County 2014 Winegrape Harvest Wraps Up

Growers Pushed by Compressed Season and Impressed with Quality

Kelseyville, CA – Winegrape producers throughout Lake County have completed a “fast and furious” harvest yielding flavorful berries that match or exceed the high quality of recent years. Early in the season, vineyard owners and managers reported starting harvest about a week to 10 days earlier than last year due to dry, warm conditions. Growers reported grapes ripening quickly so vineyard crews were charged with picking blocks earlier for nearly all Lake County varietals.

Overall, information about this year’s winegrape crop is positive, Lake County Winegrape Commission President Debra Sommerfield confirmed Monday. “We have received excellent reports from vineyard managers and winegrape producers across the region who have indicated the grapes are of high quality and that the fruit came through the season without disease or extreme dehydration.” While a few growers noted smaller clusters of berries for some varietals, she noted, they indicated their satisfaction with the crop’s distinct flavors.

“The vintage started unseasonably early with a fast pace; the warm season gave way to some cooler weather that slowed things down a bit,” said Samuel Spencer, Madder Lake Vineyard, Clear Lake AVA (American Viticulture Appellation). “Quality looks to be high – our wines are dark and ripe in character. We embarked upon the vintage September 3 and completed our harvest on September 29. The last blocks we picked were Grenache Noir and Tempranillo.”

David Beckstoffer, President and COO of Beckstoffer Vineyards with Amber Knolls and Crimson Ridge vineyards, both located in the Red Hills–Lake County AVA, said, “It was a fast-ripening crop that led to a compressed harvest season (especially since we are predominantly one variety – Cabernet).”

“The quality of the crop was very good with no fungal pressure or extreme dehydration,” Beckstoffer said. “I expect wines will be excellent due to good flavor intensity in the smaller berries.”

Here are a few other comments from vintners across Lake County’s AVAs.

Big Valley

“We experienced a short, compacted harvest season. In general, the 2014 crop looks to have good acidity and well-balanced fruit.” – Steve Tylicki, General Manager/Viticulturist, Steele Wines, vineyards in Big Valley District–Lake County AVA, Kelsey Bench–Lake County AVA, and Clear Lake AVA.

Clear Lake

“Quality was very good this year in my vineyard with no disease issues and minimal sunburn; maturity came about the same time as last year, with flavors developing nicely as the sugar came up. Yield was very good, slightly less than last year, but we hit the target we were shooting for in terms of tons per acre.” – Bill Oldham, Oldham Vineyard, Upper Lake, Clear Lake AVA

Guenoc Valley/Middletown

“We harvested the Viognier a full two weeks earlier than last year. The quality is good and the aromatics are powerful – typical of Viognier. Although the harvest is early, from a winemaker’s perspective, the 2014 vintage could be really great!” – Monica Rosenthal, R Vineyards, Middletown

High Valley

“We had a short, intense growing season with slightly below average crop. We were blessed with little to no frost. Everything from the 2014 crop is tasting great in tanks – it should be another wonderful vintage.” – Jonathan Walters, Brassfield Estate, High Valley AVA

Kelsey Bench

“This year’s harvest was the best we ever had. We started very early with budbreak and ended at least two weeks early. It was fast and furious. Quality and price was great. Our water held out by cutting down volume. We finished harvest with the last truck on October 8.” – Larry Rogers, grower, vineyards in Kelsey Bench and Clear Lake AVAs.

Red Hills

“We had a warm but exceptionally dry summer. So far all looks great – fruit got ripe, color is dark, and tannins were ripe at harvest.” – Clay Shannon, Shannon Ridge and Vigilance Vineyards, vineyards in Red Hills–Lake County AVA and High Valley AVA

About the Lake County Winegrape Commission

The Lake County Winegrape Commission is a marketing order established in 1991 to promote the region’s premium winegrapes and to assist the region’s winegrape growers. The purpose of the Lake County Winegrape Commission is to implement effective marketing, education, and research programs on behalf of Lake County winegrape growers. For information about the Lake County Winegrape Commission and its programs, call the Commission office at (707) 279-2633 or visit


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