Colorado’s 2016 harvest shows size and promise
The short-but-intense harvest season is about over in western Colorado and now every winemakers’ attention turns to the wineries. The 2016 Colorado wine-grape harvest is about “99.9-percent” finished, said state viticulturist Horst Caspari last week and growers are reporting another big crop.
“In 17 years this is the first time we’ve had back-to-back good crops,” Caspari said. “It’s never happened before but this is what our crop should be year in and year out.”
The large 2015 harvest last year allowed many winemakers to fill tanks and build their inventories depleted by severe shortages in 2013 and 2014. Now, this year’s follow-up fruit-rich harvest finds some winemakers running out of space.
A couple of wineries have purchased new tanks and oak barrels seeking to expand their capacity but Caspari said there still are going to be grapes left hanging this year because there’s no market or space for them.
Why the bounty? Two consecutive mild winters, no bud-damaging late-spring frosts or early fall frosts that nip the mature fruit, and recent plantings finally are old enough to bear fruit.
Nancy Janes at Whitewater Hill Winery on 32 Road several years ago planted about an acre of St. Vincent, a cold-hardy variety, and this year the fourth-leaf vines produced more than 800 gallons of wine. She says the wine already is bright and fruit-forward and only will improve with a few months in oak barrels.