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‘There was no relief, just like for us’

Hot weather pushes up wine grape harvest in northern Santa Barbara County

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2014 Night grape harvest, Melville Vineyards, Lompoc, Dreifuss.jpg

A night grape harvest is underway in this 2014 photo at Melville Vineyards in Lompoc.

The heat wave that baked northern Santa Barbara County for two weeks has caused wine grapes to mature sooner than usual and pushed the harvest up by a couple of weeks, but overall, the quality of the grapes seems high even if the yield is low, vintners said.

The minimal rain that fell over the weekend from the remnants of Hurricane Kay off Southern California also had a minimal impact on the grapes, some said.

“Hot weather accelerates the grapes’ maturity, it pushes the sugar up, and the harvest will be a couple of weeks early,” said Kevin Merrill, a vineyard manager with Mesa Vineyard Management.

Several varietals are piled together to await the traditional blessing of the grapes in this photo from 2015.

Grapes ripened on the vine sooner than expected in northern Santa Barbara County as last week's heat wave pushed up the sugar content, forcing some vineyards to harvest two weeks earlier than anticipated.

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