Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blessing of the Grapes in Livermore Valley Heralds 30th Harvest Wine Celebration

Today in Livermore Valley wine country, local clergy blessed the first grapes plucked from vines in the East Bay wine region that is home to nearly 50 wineries. The centuries-old ceremony practiced by many religions honored the vineyards, the grapes and the people who make the annual harvest a reality.

"This year’s spring was the coolest on record and the grapevines have been given a long growing season," said 5th generation winemaker Karl Wente of Wente Vineyards. "Some summertime rain presented a challenge and kept our farming team on their toes. This year’s crop is not a big as the last two years, however there is ample growth and the cool season should produce some great grapes."

The ceremony took place among the vines at the Valley's newest winery, Las Positas Vineyards on Wetmore Road. Many Livermore Valley winemakers and winery owners were present to celebrate the beginning of another fruitful harvest.

"My opinion is that we are looking at a very good harvest so far, but, if we don’t see a warming trend soon, we will be at risk of late season rains and the fruit will not be ready to pick," said winemaker Chris Graves of Ruby Hill Winery. "I think we are two to three weeks behind schedule, as far as average picking dates go. In general, I see many similarities to last year. I'm very excited about the quality of the vintage at this point--hopefully it stays that way!"

"We did not get the frost that Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Monterey and Napa received, so I see harvest finishing around Thanksgiving or so. Could be a great vintage if the weather cooperates here on out," added Concannon Vineyard Estate Manager Jim Ryan who also serves as president of the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association.

The blessing was the perfect prelude to the 30th Annual Livermore Valley Harvest Wine Celebration that will take place over Labor Day weekend.  Known for its signature shuttle buses and festive atmosphere, the event is a tradition in the Bay Area. On Sunday, September 4 and Monday, September 5 between noon and 5 p.m., area wineries will offer Livermore Valley’s best wine, food, art and music to ticket holders. Bus transportation between wineries will be available on Sunday only, and wineries will offer special activities to festival guests on Monday.

Tickets for the Harvest Wine Celebration this weekend are available online at www.LVwine.org and at Bay Area Safeway stores.

For more information about the weekend festival, please visit www.LVwine.org.

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