Harvest comes early for Napa Valley wine makers

NAPA, Calif. -- There's no day off for Labor Day in the Napa Valley. It's crunch time in Wine Country as the harvest is coming in.

Weather is always a factor in the valley and it's the fourth year of a drought.

"We're earlier than normal, in some cases, a month earlier," winemaker Brooks Painter said.

At V. Sattui in Napa, Painter watched as a near-record number of trucks dropped off grapes.

It's a record for this date, at least, where the harvest would only be starting at this time. Most years, valley growers are about one-third of the way through and yields are much lower.

"Well, it ranges anywhere from 10 percent to as much as 50. We had one vineyard came in 55 percent off," Painter said.

Blame a cold snap last May combined with an extremely dry summer, nuances that average buyers may not notice in their Labor Day tasting but they might feel differently about in a few years if yields remain low and prices rise.

Louis Kramer and his wife, Sheryl, came through Monday after dropping off their son for freshman year at San Francisco State.

"We're willing to pay more for it, a little bit more," Sheryl Kramer said.

The upside is that less fruit on the vine means better grapes, or so we're told.

In the meantime, there is a heatwave coming this week and smaller grapes are more sensitive, especially when already ripened.

So there's no rest on Labor Day.

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