Growers: High quality grapes possible

Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat /

This year's grape harvest is off to a late, but very promising start, according to local growers.

Steve Collum, founder of Vineyard Concepts, a consultation company specializing in the design and installation of trellis systems, is also the manager of Indian Rock Vineyards in Murphys.

Collum has been harvesting plenty of grapes throughout Calaveras County

for clients in the past month, including every day of the past week. He said abundant groundwater and a cool summer have delayed the

harvest, but what is coming off the vines is rather impressive.

"This could be some of the best-quality fruit we've seen in a long time out here," Collum said. "For us, it's a blessing."

Some varietals, like barbera, sangiovese and cabernets are

harvesting anywhere from two to four weeks later than usual, he said.

Others like syrah, bordello and tempranillo have been right on time.

So long as a big freeze that causes all the leaves to die off and

decimates the canopy can be avoided, all is well, Collum said.

Jim Costello, the owner of Mt. Brow Winery in Sonora, has also seen

a late harvest, just like growers in other areas of the state such as

the Central Valley and coastal regions.

"I'm right there with them," Costello said.

He usually picks his merlot grapes the last weekend of August but

instead sugar levels were not quite right until this past weekend,

Costello said.

Most varietals are three to four weeks behind the typical schedule at Mt. Brow, he said.

"If the weather stays warm like this and we don't get a storm, it will be terrific," Costello said.

Contact Sean Janssen at sjanssen@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4531.

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