So far, we’re having to hunt for the weak spots in Harvest 2006. No rain, no disease, perfect croploads, healthy marketplace and plenty of coffee are all positives. The nitpicks we might have are a little fruit desiccation (dehydration of fruit by the plant to keep the plant going in high heat) and everything being ready at once–straining picking, trucking, and winery constraints like fermentor and chilling space.
Take a look at harvest rate so far and you see we’ve brought in 65% of our expected harvest already, with Pinot noir and Pinot gris at 76% of projected and Chardonnay at 53%. We’re stretching our white wine capabilities for a small winery, but want to fulfill quickly depleting stocks of Pinot gris and INOX.
Our Harvest Team this year brings great energy and intelligence to the job, with all beginning with 2005 bottling runs which only ended two days before our first harvest day. They’ve had a couple days off, but that’s not much in 3-4 weeks. ; With us this year are, as follows:
- Brian Irvine, a recent UC-Fresno grad who changed careers while still young to take a wine passion a step towards the craziness of making wine and moving back to Oregon, worked at Fogarty (CA) and is a positive and cheerful energy for the team.
- Elsbeth Pancrazi, from New Jersey, one of two Vassar grads bringing stimulating discussions on literature, plus an “I’ve never done it before, but I’ll try it” readiness to work long hours and seriously learn the process —ethic perhaps harking to recent early morning bakery work.
- Jon Li, from Boston, and also from Vassar and with a harvest stint last year in California under his belt, understanding what next steps need to be taken and focusing on doing it, but always with contexting questions on why things are done and how they relate to other steps.
- Court King, from Charleston, South Carolina, a friend of Anna’s from Peace Corps days in Africa, where they were, at 40 miles apart, the closest fellow-Americans to be found, dusting off his chemistry degree from USC (University of South Carolina, not the west coast school) to do lots of our benchtop work, plus being depended on to reach high things with his six-foot plus frame.
- Kevin Green, another two career overachiever from Silicon Forest’s industry who is attending Chemetketa classes and working at Chehalem over several months to apply winemaking concepts, now begins a full-time two weeks in intense harvest mode to see how much cleaning, punchdown and beer it actually takes to process grapes.\
The kingpins of this great group are Mike Eyres and Anna Campbell, obviously responsible for smooth running and knowledge of our process. More on them and how we do that later.
The upcoming four or five days should see the rest of our Pinot noir and Pinot gris harvested, plus almost all of the Chardonnay, leaving only remnants and Riesling after October 10th or so.
We have finally got a cooling respite from pleasant, but warm, dry weather. This time last week was the sixth day in a row with highs at least 86F, quite warm for this time of year and, especially, for fruit in the last stages of ripening. The last six days have averaged 70F with a spit of rain only (.02 in). Weather promises continued dry and 75F or under until next Thursday when our first significant rain comes in.
Cumulative degree days continue to keep pace with 2003 (2340 vs 2358 DD>50F), although the resultant fruit seems in better balance and less sugar-ripe than 2003