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MONTEREY COUNTY VINTNERS REPORTING HEALTHY HARVEST.

Byline: Betsy Lordan Scripps-McClatchy Western Service

While Mother Nature has not been kind to California grape growers as a whole during this year's harvest, many in Monterey County, particularly those in the north, seem to have escaped her ravages.

The Wine Institute laid the blame for the California wine grape crop's low yields on the weather - a winter that was too mild; a spring marred by too much rain around the time the flowers bloomed on the grape plants, and a summer that was too hot.

Consequently, when this year's harvest began at the end of the summer, many California grape growers reported low yields.

By contrast, in Monterey County, many growers escaped the bad weather. The winter was mild, but it caused the plants to bloom early, and the weather around bloom time was good. The bad weather that came toward the end of the normal growing season caused little harm, because much of the fruit already had been harvested.

``Here in Gonzales, I'd say we're hitting what we estimated in terms of tonnage,'' said Kelly McFarland, president of General Vineyard Services. Estimates are compiled by counting the grape clusters after the bloom, he added.

Final figures will not be available until the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner's crop report is released in April 1997. But if prices stay firm, the county is likely to do better in terms of dollar value than it did last year.

In the North Coast area - Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties - tonnage per acre was down by anywhere from 15 percent to 35 percent, depending on the variety, according to the San Francisco-based Wine Institute.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 6, 1996
Words:271
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