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It was a bittersweet year for some Northern California wine growers

Sacramento winery discusses what made this year unique for some growers
Sacramento winery discusses what made this year unique for some growers 02:49

For those in the Northern California wine business, it was a bittersweet year. Napa Valley recorded a banner harvest of grapes with some calling it the best they had seen in their lifetime, but for those in Sonoma County, it was a very different story.

At Bailarín Cellars Winery in the heart of Downtown Sacramento, just steps from DOCO, they are breaking down the good and the bad. Owner Brianne Saucci explained what made things complicated for some in Sonoma County, where they source their fruit. A longer than normal season meant grapes were still on the vines as late as November, something that may have contributed to the quality of the wine but impacted the quantity and amount growers were able to produce.

"2023 was not the most ideal harvest and growing year. We didn't have a lot of sun in our area," Saucci said. "The growing part of the season was a challenge but that's the bitter part, the sweet part is that there was a lot more foot traffic coming through our Sacramento door."

They said that in recent months the demand for wine in their key location of Sacramento has opened the door to incredible opportunities like hosting the entire New Orleans Pelicans basketball team. Their bookings for holiday parties and event gatherings have been through the roof, but they acknowledge the challenges to part of the growing season.

"I know we had to not accept fruit this year from a vineyard because it just wasn't an ideal growing season in that part of the region," Saucci said. "We are a true winery, we harvest our fruit, we know where all of our vineyards are."

With that level of close collaboration between every aspect of the growing and harvesting process, it means they can add a unique touch that not many locations are able to add. They are one of the only wineries in the city of Sacramento sourcing their fruit from Northern California vineyards.

Saucci is from Sonoma County and is proud to bring the roots of her home into the Sacramento region and encourages everyone to support local businesses regardless of the kind of growing year they had.

"We finally feel like we are crawling out of COVID. We are finally experiencing some more foot traffic, experiencing the Kings and new places like Butcher and Barrel, and Tiger," she said. "I could go on and on about the great group of businesses we have down here."

In addition to sourcing local wines, the Sacramento region has a wine growing Mecca of its own in Lodi. According to the website Lodi Wine Growers, Lodi growers had more grapes rejected, for more reasons, during the 2023 vintage than most can remember.

It added to a mixed bag of reviews for the 2023 year. Wine harvested this year won't be in bottles and on shelves until late 2024. Many are toasting to better and brighter days ahead while underscoring the importance of supporting local businesses.

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