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Early harvest for Valley vineyards
     The summer’s record hot weather and wildfire smoke contributed to making it an interesting and productive year and brought the grape harvest in sooner for many Illinois Valley vineyards.
     “We harvest early anyway, because we make non-alcoholic grape juice,” said Draper Valley Vineyard owner Al Curtice. “We want a little less sugar in the grapes, and sugar levels increase the longer the grapes sit on the vines, unless it gets too cold or wet.”
     Over at the Villa Novia Vineyard in Selma, which grows eighteen acres of grapes for Foris Vineyards, trucks delivering the last of this season’s batch made it to the winery an hour before last Friday’s storm hit.
     “The crop is beautiful,” said Villa Novia owner Gayle Werden, who has been growing grapes for 30 years. “We hit the trifecta. The pH, acid and sugar levels were in perfect balance and the grape formation was fantastic. It’s the least stressful year we’ve had in a while. The wine maker was very happy. It’ll be a great year for wines!”........

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