The clear skies and mild weather have left for now. The sky is gray and dark and the rain is falling steadily. It has rained over 1.5 inches in the past 24 hours which is a new record for Oregon , not seen since the 1940’s. The forecast is for more of the same over the next three days and then a lightening in the front which has temporarily stopped harvest. Over the past three days we have harvested close to 30 tons of fruit, mostly young vines, which were ready to harvest and some vineyards which had sustained injury due to high mildew pressure during the course of the growing season and would not fare well during the rainy days to come. We still have the majority of our fruit hanging on the vine. Flavors still need time. This year seems to be marked by lower than normal PH’s , which indicates unripe acids, while sugars are slowly but surely creeping up. Flavor is king though, and it is taking a long time to develop. The grapevines in several vineyards are shutting down and losing their leaves or starting to turn brilliant fall colors. Older vines are still slowly working and sport woody canes and rich green foliage. The fruit in most vineyards is a brilliant and picturesque blue/purple.
We started the 2005 harvest with the Oak block and block 9 of the Shea Vineyard followed by our 115 clone block at Broadley Vineyard. Both sites looked and tasted ripe and are now cold soaking in tanks, slowly bleeding out ripe color. The second day of harvest we brought in the 4-acre block as well as the high-density blocks and Pommard block of the Bergström Vineyard. This year the stems look ripe and seeds are not giving us astringency when cracked, so we are doing several whole cluster-fermentations in our new wooden fermentation tanks to optimize the aromatic and textural appeal of the vintage.
2005 is the first vintage for our new Bergström Winery Estate Block which is a 0.5 acre high density planting of 115 and 777 clone Pinot Noir vines just adjacent to the winery. We have called it the Horse-shoe block since it’s inception in 2001 since we found 4 horseshoes (but no horse) buried in the soil as we cultivated it prior to planting. This block was picked and put directly into tank with no destemming for a traditional 100% whole cluster fermentation. The fruit was inoculated the next day with a Burgundian yeast selection and will be manually punched down by foot. This block will yield a precious 4 barrels of wine to be released sometime late in 2006. The fruit, which is in the winery, is sound and ripe and tastes like potentially very successful wine and that makes us happy. But our eyes are now to the skies for the next few days as we will be walking through vineyards and paying close attention to the health of the remaining fruit which needs to be picked. This is shaping up to be a very interesting harvest. This is the kind of weather which brought so many winemakers to Oregon . And the kind of conditions which still brings so many winemakers to Oregon . In this marginal climate we are making wine at the edge of quality and disaster. That is always what has drawn us closer to each other as a community and as a region. Pinot Noir is not what vacations are made of; sunny and clear with hot temperatures forecasted.. Pinot Noir is a year by year experience which is often at its best after the most difficult of weather.