September 13, 2016

Spotlight on the KORBEL Growing Process

Every August, excitement and anticipation build at the Korbel Winery as preparation for harvest begins. For Paul Ahvenainen, Korbel’s Director of Winemaking, this is when his hard work comes to fruition.

Achieving a plentiful harvest requires more than maintaining crops and hoping for good weather. Winemaking is an exact and difficult science that begins with the growing process, which includes determining which grapes to plant in which environments. “To achieve the best product possible, you want to grow the right variety of grapes in the right place,” said Ahvenainen. “You must match the varietal you want to grow with the growing region in which you are located.”

For the Korbel Winery, pleasant weather and an abundance of fog in the Russian River Valley make it the perfect environment in which to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, because those varietals thrive in moist climates.

Many other factors also affect the success of a crop. Conditions during the spring of the previous year are the first indication of how the current year’s harvest will fare. “We look to the spring of the preceding year to get a gauge on how our current crop will turn out,” said Ahvenainen. “From there, the weather from April to the end of July will also help determine the quantity and quality of the harvest.”

As any specialist in agriculture knows, Mother Nature plays a vital role in the success of each crop. Weather conditions such as frost in spring or lack of rain in summer can set back the growing process, and even destroy the budding grapes. To prevent harm to the grapes, fans are placed above the vineyard, to circulate air around the vines and stop frost from affecting the crop between March and April. Irrigation systems are installed throughout the vineyard to transport water to the vines during summer.

Combating weather is no easy task, but the KORBEL team is prepared for almost anything, and has the results to prove it from this year’s crop.

“This year’s harvest quality is quite impressive, and we’re thrilled with this season’s results,” Ahvenainen reported.

Check the blog next month to see results and pictures of KORBEL’s harvest. We raise a toast to Ahvenainen and the team at KORBEL for their dedication of growing and harvesting the grapes that create the one-of-a-kind California champagne.