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State's Wine Grape Harvest Outlook Good

October 24, 1985| From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — The 1985 California wine grape harvest, nourishment for the state's 662 registered wineries, is 95% complete, and the quality is "excellent to outstanding," the Wine Institute has announced.

"Every indicator so far points to a truly exceptional year," said the report.

Throughout the year, vintners have marveled over the near perfection of the even, non-frantic growth season. The fruit ripened slowly after a spring clear of ruinous frosts, and a summer free of flash rains and stagnant air that in some other years have demolished whole regions of fruit.

The institute, a major representative for the state's $5.4 billion industry, said that as of a week ago 2.65 million tons of grapes had been crushed statewide, with average yields down from earlier years.

Noting that the brief heat waves of early summer had resulted in smaller berries, the institute's report cited a silver lining in the cloud: "This often results in better varietal character."

The first of the harvest, nearly exclusively the white varieties, began in early August with 400,000 tons taken in every week.

Growers and vintners were worried in early September, according to the report, when a two-day rain threatened the fruit with rot. The worry evaporated quickly as the rain was followed by bright sunshine and breezes that quickly dried off the bunches of grapes, and the harvest proceeded without further wet-down, but with cool weather, through September.

"By the last week in September, warm Indian summer had returned, as had optimism for an outstanding vintage," the report said.

Pointing to fine sugar and acid levels, and richer color in the fruit, the report closed by opening a small back door on the prediction of a superlative crop.

Declared the report, "As always, early assessments of the current vintage must be made with caution."

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