Napa Valley's grape harvest is a thing of beauty.
Napa photographer Al Francis captured the breathtaking action in close-ups Thursday and Friday of this week in the Carneros region at night and during the day along Highway 29 south of Yountville.
As Francis discovered, crews were beginning to harvest red grapes with most of the whites already safe in the storage tanks.
According to St. Helena-based Napa Valley Vintners, the pace of the 2013 harvest has picked up as warm weather continues to provide ideal ripening conditionsThe picking of white wine grapes, especially aromatic varieties, is nearly finished and the harvesting of red wine grapes including Pinot Noir, Merlot and Malbec, is in full swing, the Vintners said this week.
After a spell of hot weather last week, the marine influence is again being felt in Napa Valley, providing what Pam Starr, winemaker for Crocker & Starr Wines in St. Helena, calls "luxurious hang time" for the development of balanced sugars and acids that portend the makings of another quality vintage.
The region's diverse terrain, soil types, microclimates, vineyard locations, grape varieties and wine styles, along with many other intricate climatic, geological, and geographical factors, make harvest in Napa Valley a complex, exhilarating and moment-by-moment process, which can be followed at napavintners.com/harvest.