glasses of bubbly

Two wineries on the North Coast plan to pick tomorrow, and the  grapes harvested will ultimately produce sparkling wine.

The first winery out of the gate in Sonoma County will be J. Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg. For Napa Valley,  it will be Mumm Napa.

Picking in July is early, and it continues the trend of early ripening. Last year harvest on the North Coast began on Aug. 1st, with Mumm Napa the leader of the pack.

J. Vineyards will start picking grapes tomorrow night and the fruit will be delivered at the Healdsburg winery Thursday morning. These initial grapes will be blessed shortly after, the yearly ritual at the winery, according to Scott Zapotocky, director of vineyard operations.

Mumm Napa in Rutherford will begin its harvest tomorrow at 6 a.m. The official celebration will begin around 11 a.m. at the winery with winemaker Ludovic Dervin giving a traditional harvest toast. Winery employees will gather on the crush pad and watch on as the first load of grapes is dumped into the crusher. Then the staff will do its “cork pop salute,” spraying each other with bottles of bubbly.

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards in Sonoma plans to begin its harvest the first week in August, according to winemaker Steve Urberg. Other sparkling wine houses on the North Coast expected to begin picking before long are Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol, Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville, Domaine Carneros in Napa, Domaine Chandon in Yountville, Schramsberg in Calistoga,  and Roederer Estate in Anderson Valley.

For the uninitiated, sparkling wine grapes are picked earlier than still wine grapes, so bubbly always initiates the harvest. The three most common grape varietals in producing sparkling wine are chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.

For many, Northern California only really celebrates one season: Harvest. It’s the time of year that’s action-packed. Winemakers and their crews often work 10-hour days for weeks on end, while the aromas of fermenting grapes fill Wine Country.