Harvest throughout the Napa Valley vineyards is never perfectly uniform and requires expertise at every level to combat heat waves, cold spells, the lack or overabundance of precipitation, and other weather impacts. The diversity of microclimates and elevations add to the variability of the region and become important considerations during the ripening and harvest process.

In some parts of Napa Valley this year, vineyard managers coped with late unexpected heat waves and even power outages in some areas at critical times during harvest.

Only the most knowledgeable and experienced growers and winemakers from the best Yountville wineries successfully can navigate these many variables to produce the top wines year after year.

2019 Harvest Update

Cabernet Grape Harvesting Underway at Hill Family Estate

Recent warm, dry winds caused cool air to collect on the Napa Valley floor for a time. Many Napa vineyards relied on mechanical methods to keep the vines from frosting over which would have been damaging to the crop. Recently, Doug Hill of Hill Family Estate activated our wind machines at our Beau Terre vineyard as the temperatures dropped to 29°F. Thankfully, no damage occurred.

Now, stabilized temperatures are extending the valuable “hang time” for the grapes, a period when they mature and develop the richer flavors the winemakers at Yountville wineries in Napa Valley hope to enhance.

Compressing the Harvest

By mid-October 2019, 100% of our white grape varieties were harvested, and the serious business of picking the Cabernets began.

To allow the grapes to reach their fullest potential, the management team at Hill Family Estate decided to “compress” the season for harvesting their valuable reds. As a result, over 50% of the grape harvest from our vineyards will be picked in just the last three to four weeks of the harvest season.

Working with 10-person crews and targeting 12 to 20-tons of grapes per day, pickers and winemakers are working long hours to ensure this year’s output maintains optimum quality. The Hill Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Atlas Peak and Windy Flats have already been harvested and crushed.

Role of the Winemaker

As the grapes arrive at the Yountville wineries, the winemaker must make critical, real-time decisions that can dramatically impact the eventual wine quality.

Hill Family Estate Winemaker Alison Doran is working long hours evaluating harvest times, checking each vineyard block, observing the crush, and making critical decisions to control the fermentation to get the most out of the crop. She employs a variety of fermentation processes to optimize the quality of each wine.  

Hill Family Estate

As one of the family-owned Yountville wineries, we have been producing quality wines for nearly two decades and farming in Napa Valley for much longer. Combining Doug Hill’s vast grape growing expertise among many Napa vineyards, Alison Doran’s award-winning winemaking expertise, and our team’s excellent management prowess, we are proud to produce wines that rank high in quality each year.

At Hill Family Estate, we manage 120 acres of vineyards strategically located between Yountville and American Canyon. The diversity of growing areas allows us to produce a wide variety of wine grapes and delicious final products.