Following on the heels of a highly regarded 2012 wine grape crop that brought smiles to the faces of California growers and winemakers, the 2013 harvest should keep those smiles firmly in place.


A growing season with stable, not-too-hot, not-too-cool temperatures ending with a heat wave that ripened grapes up to a month earlier than previous harvests had vintners scrambling to pick but is expected to result in wines with plenty of rich, concentrated fruit flavors. When all is said and done (and picked) this year’s harvest is estimated to come in at around 3.7 million tons, a close second to the 4 million tons harvested in 2012.


Growers and winemakers have been tossing around terms like “outstanding,” “exceptional” and “amazing” to describe the quality of grapes, with particular plaudits handed out for Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The only fly in an otherwise estimable ointment was that the supply of grapes sometimes outstripped wineries’ capacity to store them, though after relatively small crops in 2010 and 2011, it’s a problem most were happy to have.


It’s a problem many European vintners would likely be happy to have too, as a combination of drought, wind and hailstorms, and cool weather have wreaked havoc with the harvests in France, Austria and Greece, which is expected to result in higher prices for the 2013 vintage and put their wines at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis domestic bottles.