By M.L. Hilton
(NAPA, CA) –The hills were suffused with that soft red glow. It was early evening, and I was on my way home; a slow, easy journey down Silverado Trail.
It is almost my favorite time of year in the Valley. Though, I must admit any season has reasons to hold it up as beloved. The leaves now have reached that deep green of late summer, the grapes have almost all achieved verasion and hang intensely purple beneath their canopies.
The very atmosphere seems to carry an air of anticipation. All the vintners and growers are on their starters blocks, waiting for the crack of the gun that signals the race is on.
Weather becomes watched closely and discussed endlessly. I wonder about the cool spot that we have hit. I think it bodes well for the Carneros cool climate varieties of pinot noir and chardonnays, but are the mid valley and hillside grapes getting enough sun to bump them toward that point of essential ripeness? Opinions vary amongst the lay people kibitzing over coffee in the coffee shops. The professionals, of course, are all out in the field by the time of day that I roll out of bed.
It never ceases to amaze me that this is it for the winemakers. The one and only time of year that they get to produce their merchandise. They get no other chance, at no other time of year.
No wonder the expectancy is almost palpable.