Missouri’s 2017 Harvest
November 09, 2017
There are a number of factors that impact a vintage of grapes. Everything from the amount of rain, to the number of days above a certain temperature, to the soil health. The list goes on and on. Many of the factors cannot be controlled, but Missouri vintners work tirelessly to do everything they can from specific trellising, to drip irrigation, and much more to ensure the highest quality grapes possible come harvest time. So, how did we do this year? Here are some thoughts on the 2017 harvest from wineries across the state.
St. James Winery in the Ozark Highlands
“The  harvest was one of the best we have had in recent years for quality and quantity (both gallons per ton juicing and the gross weight of the grapes). While the rain at the first of harvest affected the early varietals, the quality and berry size were judged as good to great. We think the Vignoles and Seyval are some of the best that we have grown in recent years. The reds ripened slowly during the cold spells of early September but picked up the heat degree days they needed later in the month with numerous hot days in the upper 80’s and lower 90’s during the day and high 50’s and low 60’s at night. The temperatures combined with the dry weather resulted in a nice long ripening curve and good to great quality of our reds. The ability to control the amount of water that the vines received was a key for this year’s harvest. Overall, the fall weather has been drier than normal which allowed a nice ripening period, and hang time for late harvest grapes. We are producing late harvest wines this year for the first time in several years. The harvest was finished approximately two weeks earlier than normal this year.” – Peter Hofherr, CEO
Tyler Ridge Vineyard Winery in Springfield
“We saw a fifteen percent decrease in our harvest yields this year. We grow Cayuga White, Chambourcin, Norton, and Vignoles. Harvest was also about two weeks earlier than average this year. We think the cause was a great deal of rain early in the season and then extremely dry conditions later in the season.” – Kathy Dennis, Owner
Stone Hill Winery in Hermann
“2017 overall was a really good year. We had lots of rain very early in Spring but the weather stayed mild and the grapes had plenty of good growing degree days to ripen optimally. We had very little problems with rot in the early ripening varieties and no excessive heat either, so the vine could actually ripen the fruit perfectly. Vignoles comes to mind here.
I look at 2017 as an awesome year for the reds, especially for our Chambourcin. In my 12 years here, this was the best looking and tasting Chambourcin crop. The Norton is also very good. It has loads of structure this year and the chemistry looks great.
The crop was way bigger than expected. Big berries and clusters and they were healthy. I am very pleased with the cultivar character this year on pretty much all the varieties. It was a really good year for the aromatic varieties.
All and all a very memorable year with regards to grape quality. The wines made themselves this year. We just have to guide them along the way.” – Shaun Turnbull, Winemaker
Augusta and Montelle Wineries in Augusta
“Harvest’s yield this year was slightly higher than normal. Quality in white grapes was very good and excellent for the reds with some reds reaching 14% alcohol. Best quality in reds that I can remember due to moderate temperatures and dry sunny weather. Vintage of the century? We’ll see.” – Tony Kooyumjian, Owner
Les Bourgeois Vineyards in Rocheport
“This year’s harvest went relatively smoothly, but there were lower yields across all the vineyards we own and others we normally source from. This makes things easier on the harvest crew, but harder to meet the tonnage needed for this year’s production. Overall, we processed 520 tons, which is a rather average year for us.
Harvesting grapes from alternative vineyards gave us the opportunity to ferment in smaller, site specific lots. When it comes time to start blending or choosing varietals for specialty wines (such as our Collector’s Series) this will allow us more flexibility to make decisions based on the characteristics imparted on each wine simply because of the location it came from.” – Sarah Cooper-Nelson, Assistant Winemaker
While conditions can vary greatly from one part of the state to the next, many Missouri wineries saw great yields and excellent quality during this year’s harvest. It sounds like the 2017 vintage wines are something to look forward to!