Cluster of wine grapes on the vine

Harvest 2023: Late is Great

Hurry up and wait—such is the mantra of the 2023 harvest season to date in Paso Robles.

“The lowdown is that we’re two to three weeks later than typical,” says Winemaker James Schreiner.

As he speaks, James is returning from a scouting mission to our estate Quinn East vineyard in the Estrella District, where he assessed several blocks of Zinfandel. He notes that the unusually wet winter in Paso Robles was followed by mild spring and summer temperatures, which has pushed the pace of ripening back several weeks. The fall season—which officially starts today—looks to enjoy a perfect start with temperatures projected in the mid to low 80s over the next week.

To ensure that the fruit reaches full ripeness, our vineyard team has been “dropping crop”—the act of cutting underripe clusters from the vines. This allows the vine to put all of its energy into developing the most promising fruit. What we lose in yields we gain in quality.

Our first pick of the year was Viognier from Quinn East on September 12. We also picked select lots of Albarino, as well as Syrah for rosé production. Zinfandel from Remo Belli Vineyard in the Adelaida District rolled into the winery on September 19. However, the waiting game continues for the remainder of the 2023 vintage.

All of this stands in contrast to last year, when a sustained September heat wave had local winemakers scrambling to pick their fruit earlier rather than later.

“This year reminds me of 2011,” James says. “We’re going to get good hang time with nice maturity and great natural acidity. Mother Nature still has time to throw us some curveballs, but I feel like this will be a strong vintage.”

Clusters of grapes on the ground in the vineyard
Muscat grape clusters
Hand holding a cluster of grapes
2023 harvest and production at Opolo Vineyards