We’re in the final leg of 2006 Harvest, with a huge lead and the only question is not whether we’ll win, but by how much.
To put things in perspective, by this time last year we had harvested only 40% of the eventual harvest totals, compared to double that this year. And, that total tonnage on November 2nd was only four tons greater than what we’ve already brought in.
The quality is looking exceptional, even with the couple blocks that came in with effects from heat spikes a couple weeks ago. Yesterday and today we’re harvesting our two oldest Pinot noir blocks at Ridgecrest, the 5 and 7 Acre blocks, sources of usually potent and auspicious stuff. This is the twenty-second time I’ve seen these plants harvested, and the fruit from 2006 is as good as I’ve seen. Perhaps better. At just under 2.0 tons per acre, it should have intensity and perfect ripeness at this stage. Being relatively high in elevation, Ridgecrest does ripen later and, unless hit by an onslaught of rain, undergoes final stage maturation in cooler conditions.
The white press has been going full-tilt most of this harvest, with extra tonnage of Pinot gris and Chardonnay processed here. By bracketing the picking times of fruit, early and late, we are bringing in good acid and good ripeness for several blocks, especially for Chardonnay and Riesling. This gives best of both worlds in a warm year.
Being a compact vintage, we have been forced to choreograph fermentor turns, bin shuffling, picker availability and transport logistics more than normal. Mike, Stirling Fox and I are getting expert enough again to offer our services to the Bolshoi. But then that might mean crossing our borders, which is not done easily these days. We have a great crew this year, but it would have been larger by one or two had we not lost foreign winemakers to the INS and terrorist hysteria and overreaction. Almost no Kiwi or Aussie or Spanish or South American or… interns are in Oregon this year. These are not the dangerous people we are trying to keep out of the country, any more than other technical types who have driven the technological developments of the last 50 years! (Ooops, soapbox alert just went off!)
I’ve also just been called to the forklift, so wish us a flurry at the finish of Harvest 2006.
Although no longer fiery, as it was two weeks ago, we are still dry and sunshiny, with today being 75F plus and worthy of a lawn chair and tacky novel. The rain we got on the weekend was dust settling only, so did not help as it would have earlier, but did no harm either since our fruit is too close to harvest to encourage botrytis or dilute fruit. The Fall rain season looks to start seriously Sunday or Monday, with several days of rain. By then we’ll only have two blocks of Riesling yet to harvest.