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Vineyards are drying out

The North Coast grape harvest came back to life Friday with the first full day of sunshine since a harsh storm doused fields early in the week.

The clear skies and warm temperatures were just what the vineyards needed to "dry things out," said Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission.

Moisture lingered for days after Tuesday's heavy rains. As temperatures crept into the high 60s and low 70s, the resulting humidity gave rise to the threat of mold in local vineyards.

On Friday, said Dry Creek vineyard manager Duff Bevill, "we picked grapes, we picked grapes all day long."

Bevill, who said he saw some mold in the fields, planned to have crews picking cabernet suvignon grapes today and Sunday, as long as the weather holds up.

Part of Friday was spent clearing moldy grapes from the vine so that crews could focus on picking clean fruit faster. He said that will all his crews working, he could bring in his remaining 500 tons of grapes withing six days.

Across the North Coast, he said, "everybody is looking at having it wrapped up early next week."

Steve Sangiacomo, a partner in Sangiacomo Family Vineyards in Sonoma and the Carneros region, said he brought in 100 tons of chardonnay grapes Friday and that he hopes to bring in another 100 tons of the soft-skin varietal today.

"The fruit held up very well," he said. "With the current conditions we've had, we're definitely picking it in the nick of time."

Steve Anderson, a forecaster for the National Weater Service in Monterey, said temperatures today would be between 75 and 80 degrees. Temperatures likely will cool down Sunday with a high of 70 degrees.


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