Sunday October 17, 2010
There is a palpable buzz around wine country today. Our tasting room is packed to the gills with spectators and wine-connoisseurs alike three deep at the bar and spilling out onto the patio, all wanting to know what 2010 is looking like and how much fruit we have picked so far. Not to mention it is a spectacular day to be in wine country touring and tasting.
So, here’s the skinny…..we have launched into full harvest mode and we are not stopping until the rain, which is predicted for this upcoming weekend, five days from now. We have enjoyed over 115 days of hang-time in most of our vineyard sites (one of the longest seasons in recent history) and we have been blessed with an amazingly sunny and dry October which has taken this year from a scary to a happy! A wetter and colder than normal winter is predicted for the Pacific Northwest and it looks like it is going to come knocking on our door around the beginning of November. Nothing is set in stone yet, but the extended weather forecast is showing two separate wet systems hitting the West Coast this weekend and the weekend afterwards. There will probably still be some good windows of opportunity to bring in some of the later, higher elevation sites and old-vine Chardonnays during that period depending on how much rain actually falls.
Yesterday we harvested all of Le Pre du Col Vineyard, our “monopole” estate vineyard site on the Ribbon Ridge. The initial fruit samples from all three blocks of Pommard and Dijon clone 777 Pinot Noir were thrilling to taste, dark colors, bright fresh aromas of raspberries and cherries. This vineyard, like many others, is showing very exciting levels of flavors with pH levels around 3.3 and Brix levels hovering around 22.5, which, in my book, is very exciting. We have also harvested all of The Winery Block now, both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well as some Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the de Lancellotti Vineyard.
The only thing that is truly alarming about this vintage, so far, is how low the yields are. We have averaged between 0.98 and 1.2 tons per acre from all of our blocks, off of five different vineyards, so far. That puts our production, and I would imagine many other peoples’ production, down 30-50 percent. Ouch. That hurts.
Tomorrow we will harvest all of Gran Moraine, and most of the Gregory vineyard, two of our prime sites in the Yamhill Carlton AVA. On Tuesday we will harvest Palmer Creek and Chehalem Mountain Vineyard and on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday we will harvest all of the Shea Vineyard and the rest of Bergstrom and de Lancellotti.
When the sprinkles start to fall on Saturday, we will have only Temperance Hill Vineyard, Wren Vineyard and some older Chardonnay vines that we will hold umbrellas over until they are done playing in the puddles and ready to come inside. Then the real fun begins…..fermentation!
So while we ponder the effects of birds and heavy clouds on (already) low yields of potentially crazy-good wine from the 2010 vintage in the Willamette Valley, let’s all heave some heavy goblets of 2008 and 2009 Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from Oregon to our thirsty mouths and rejoice in another year that we are alive and around to see mother nature’s majesty painted on all of the leaves and the fruit and the clouds and sky as the sun sets on one more autumn and the frost on the pumpkins sends us deep into our closets looking for sweaters.