A worker nudges cluster of pinot noir grapes onto a sorting table. (Photo by: Mina Kim/KQED)
A worker nudges cluster of pinot noir grapes onto a sorting table. (Photo by: Mina Kim/KQED)
The first autumn rains hit the Bay Area Monday, leaving some North Bay winemakers scrambling to get their grapes in as the first drops fell.

Under a sky thick with dark clouds, winemaker James Hall of Patz & Hall wine company in Sonoma, is all smiles.

“With this pinot noir vineyard,” Hall said. “I am essentially in the barn, so hallelujah.”

Hall stands in front of stacks of white plastic crates brimming with silvery blue grapes. The grape clusters spill onto a sorting table, then through a de-stemmer. Hall said he got this final batch in at 4 a.m., which means his workers picked through Sunday night.

“They’re heroes,” Hall said.

The rains are the latest twist for a vintage that’s already smaller and later than usual because of this year’s cool summer.

“It’s more work for fewer grapes,” Hall said. “That seems to be the theme for 2011.”

Hall said he’s thrilled, though, by the grape quality. And to celebrate getting all his pinot and chardonnay grapes in with just hours to spare, Hall said he’ll be popping champagne.

“I’m not certain exactly what, but I know it’s going to be vintage, and it’s going to be expensive.”

Author

Mina Kim

Mina Kim is evening anchor and reporter for KQED News and Friday host of Forum. Mina got hooked on public radio in 2004, during a brief fellowship with KQED's Pacific Time, which is no longer in production. She became KQED's general assignment reporter in 2010, health reporter for The California Report in 2012, and KQED News' anchor a year later. She was named Friday Forum host in 2014.

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