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Morning rain not welcomed by grape growers

A light rain early Sunday wasn't welcome by many grape growers, who've been counting on continued warm days to help them push through a later-than-normal harvest.

"I could have lived without it," said Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission.

"I had one winemaker tell me he thought a little rain would freshen up some fruit and would be good because it's been dry," Frey said. "But chardonnay growers with botritis (fungus) would just as soon not have any rain."

2011: Grape Harvest Begins

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The morning's heavy mist and rain was minimal, moved on quickly and shouldn't have caused much, if any, damage, he said.

"The good news is the breeze came up when it quit. It's sunny now, which is a big help," Frey said. "It'll dry things out quickly, which is important."

As of Sunday, about 10 percent of the county's $400 million grape crop was in wineries' tanks.

Last week's extreme heat helped kick the harvest into high gear.

While last week's efforts put a good dent in getting the crop in, the harvest is barely underway and the vast majority of fruit remained on the vine.

"It's going at a pretty good pace now. We've got a long way to go," he said, expecting the harvest to stretch into November.

On Sunday many vineyard manager's and workers took a break from picking, switching efforts to turning tanks, Frey said.


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