| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Oct 9 North American winemakers are
having a near perfect harvest this year in stark contrast to
their European counterparts, who have suffered from bad timing
and worse weather.
In Portugal some vineyards are reporting yields down 40
percent and in parts of Burgundy in France hail storms have
destroyed nearly 80 percent of the harvest.
But in California's Napa Valley, after three years of below
average temperatures and inopportune rain, winemakers are
enjoying a banner year.
"Neither too early, nor too late; neither too hot, nor too
cold, 2012 looks to be the 'Goldilocks' vintage, where
everything is just right," said Christopher Howell, general
manager of Cain Vineyard and Winery, referring to the story book
The good fortune is not limited to Californians. Winemakers
in Oregon, Washington, New York state and Canada are also
excited by this year's harvest.
Josie Tyabji, head of the British Columbia Wine Institute in
Canada, said it has "come in right on time," and although it is
a bit earlier than normal in Oregon's Willamette Valley,
winemaker Luisa Ponzi says she has no complaints.
"We've been blessed with quite a bit of sun," said Ponzi,
who trained in Burgundy and is the winemaker for her family's
Although there were some concerns in Washington state that
the harvest would be tainted by wildfires in September, tests
have shown nothing wrong.
The white wines are halfway done and much of the Merlot is
halfway picked, according to Kari Leitch, of Washington's
Chateau Ste. Michelle Wines Estate, where the vintage is shaping
up to be one of its best.
Conditions were similar at the opposite end of the country
in New York's wine-growing regions. The Hudson-Chatham winery
north of New York City reported that its harvest of Seyval Blanc
was well under way. It also expected good yields for their other
varietals including Vidal Blanc and DeChaunac.
Richard Olsen-Harbich, of the Bedell Cellars on Long
Island's North Fork, said he was harvesting a week or two early.
"Guess that's the new normal," he said, adding that his
wines are similar to those produced in France and Italy.
Despite the shortage of European wines, prices globally are
expected to remain little changed, except for some top level
Bordeaux and Burgundies.
"The market for wine is global," said David Jaeger, a member
of the American Association of Wine Economists, "so there is
pressure on the Old World producers, even in tough years, to
keep their prices roughly in line with the global market, with
the possible exception of Premier Crus in Bordeaux and some in
"Most vintners will claim that their wines are a unique
expression of their terroir, but consumers can likely find
pretty close New World substitutes to most wines produced in
Europe," he added. (Terroir refers to the local conditions that
give a wine its unique characteristics.)
Rob Sands, the chief executive of Constellation Brands
, which produces Robert Mondavi, Kim Crawford,
Inniskillin and Ravenswood wines among many others, said he is
seeing little or no movement on lower-priced wines.
(Editing by Steve Orlofsky)