October 5th, 2017

We’ve entered the tough part of harvest and crush. Almost three weeks in, nothing is new now, and while we know the end is near its still a grind and wearying. Coffee is the life’s blood that gets the winery crew from bleary, eye-rubbing, early morning dragging to energetically grabbing a punchdown tool or hose at the beginning of the day.

Looking at the Heart of Harvest—mega bags of coffee hauled in on burro from Costa Rica!

We bring in coffee by the mega-bag, carefully curated for us craft beverage enthusiasts. We almost died the year when Starbucks bought our favorite coffee roaster and then let them atrophy over time. Yes, all things matter here and in most Willamette Valley wineries, from coffee to craft beer, artisanal spirits to teas, local food and, of course, wine. I walked into the break room the other day to find a coffee cupping being held, comparing coffee grinders and grind particle size, to set standards for the harvest grind. I suppose if they’re put through the grind, there ought to be a grind they can depend on!

The ongoing daily rhythm of picking, pressing and settling white wine is over the hump and that pressure relaxing. We brought in the last of Pinot Gris Friday and Saturday, and Wednesday’s pick of Stoller Chardonnay marked the end of that variety, our biggest volume white.  That leaves only 37 tons of Riesling and Gruner Veltliner to go, which is typical as they are always the last whites to ripen.

The last empty Pinot noir fermentor was filled yesterday with the final Ridgecrest Pinot remaining, 7-Acre. Once some of the first-filled fermentors are pressed out, the final 28 tons from Corral Creek will come off the vine, along with Gamay Noir from Ribbon Ridge.

Rains are not in the immediate forecast, and we will likely have all but maybe some Riesling or Gruner picked by then. There has been no botrytis or sunburn visible when sorting Pinot Noir, with only a little desiccation or softness (think a slightly deflated soccer ball in the closet over winter) apparent at times from heat.  Overall, we have very beautiful fruit.

The crop load estimate has been remarkably precise this year, at 3.56 tons per acre over all varieties, with Pinot Noir at 2.96 ton/acre. Only 94 tons remain to pick in the field as of October 5. Our total 2017 harvest will yield approximately 23,000 cases.

Beautiful weather, healthy and flavorful fruit, and light at the end of the tunnel. Another pot of coffee or two, and we’ll be finished!



2017 Weather Going Forward

It can’t be overstated that the warmest vintages we’ve ever seen in the Willamette Valley in more than 50 years are the last five. Period. Through October 4, with four more weeks to go in the CDD measurement period, we’ve already seen 2445 degree-days. This figure puts us within a chip shot of Region 2’s lower boundary of 2500 degree-days.

Extremes in 2017 were the norm. We caught up from a very late budbreak and bloom, due to a very wet rainy season, with hot-hot-hot weather. We saw more days over 80F, nearing the 2015 record and more days over 90F than we’ve ever seen. 

September’s 2.06 inches had a refreshing impact as it was spread over the course of 11 days. Since harvest began on September 17, low temperatures have averaged 47F, with a high-low diurnal swing of 27F, resulting in well-retained brightness of acidity.

The forecast calls for sunny-to-partly-sunny for the next week, with an average high of 64F – the perfect condition for later harvested varieties like Riesling, Gruner Veltliner and Gamay Noir.

Implications | Excellent weather for picking, with slowing acid loss and little-to-no sugar pickup, while gaining complexity and riper flavors.


Vintage CDD Graph.100517 (graph in image above)


Harvest-to-Date thru October 5, 2017:

Total: 250 tons
72% of total forecast
99% accurate by block

Pinot Noir: 129 tons
76% of total forecast
92% accurate by block

Chardonnay: 71 tons
92% of total forecast

Pinot Gris: 49 tons
86% of total forecast

Clear cool days permit hangtime for perfect maturity of later ripening varieties, like Riesling at
Corral Creek.

Wynne seeming satisfied and not showing the brutality of long, continuous workdays.

Greg dismounts after a tractor stint dumping pomace bins for compost.

Pinot Gris drains into the press pan, as a pump transfers it to tank.

Multi-colored juice and wine lab samples, from unpicked vineyard blocks and ferments at different stages of completion.

Plenty of work keeping each fermentor cared for, whether punchdown, pumpover or feeding.

Fermentation building with all open-top red fermentors now full.

And a Harvest Moon October 5th.

Late nights at least bring beautiful sunsets at the winery’s Corral Creek Vineyards.

Katie loads a truck with empties for the vineyard.

Cover photo: Riesling at Corral Creek