SONOMA (KCBS) — With one of the strangest growing seasons in years behind them, North Bay wine makers are assessing the vintage that just may turn out to be better than anyone expected. Some local vineyards are calling 2010 the most challenging vintage in recent memory.

Phil Hurst of Truett Hurst Winery in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley blamed the extreme heat in an otherwise long, cool, growing season for the extended presence of grapes on the vine.

Hurst offered further explanation saying the lowest recorded temperatures of any summer in history in Dry Creek Valley, punctuated by a couple of massive heat spikes at the end of the growing season were conditions for prime grapes that lead to premium wines.

KCBS’ Tim Ryan Reports:

“It was really hard to plan. It was hard to develop the vineyard to handle the weather conditions,” said Hurst.

The result, growers claim, was intense fruit with wines that can be cellared for some time.

“Cool summer usually results in a lot of what we call hang time, which is a great thing for the grapes. They spend a lot of time on the vine; they develop a lot of flavor, color and richness,” added Hurst.

But many growers lost much, if not most, of their grapes (especially Zinfandel) to the oddball season.

“I don’t think anyone’s going to be disappointed that it was a small crop. It’s tough for the growers,” said the wine maven.

With raisins, rot and mold at the sorting table, things have slowed down a bit as they dump each load with more care.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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