This is a uniformly excellent vintage in the Willamette Valley, more so than the last two or three where some read it well and others may not have. This vintage’s weather was storybook, almost entirely positively, with the Grinch of hail in one or two localized sites proving we’re as vulnerable as Burgundy. The heat accumulations are 5th highest in the last 16 years, putting ripeness parameters in the league with 2004 and 1998, especially resembling 2004 in the flattening of heat accumulation at the end of ripening and resembling 1998 for some vineyards that were half-cropped and therefore early harvested and fully ripe.
We had the luxury of not having to turn tanks this year, so long cold soaks saw deeply colored wines, fermentation durations of 20-25 days (rather than 14-16), and giving ample time for settling prior to barreling down—NO Pinot Noir ferment has been barreled yet. Whites are full-white and tropical fruit in character, acids are good, and alcohols restrained. Their ferments are cool and volumes of all but Pinot Gris are full.
We’ll keep you abreast of how wines proceed toward the new year. Can it be as perfect as weather hounds are wont to believe? Perfect? Nah, but very, very good, I think.
Call it a wrap for vineyards. Call it mid-November for much of the work in the winery.
Weather and Its Implications
OK, the weather is normal for Oregon Fall and especially Halloween, RAIN, slick, early dark and, did I say, RAIN. Grapes are long-since harvested, but the winemaking is still very active, with one-third of our ferments pressed-out, and the rest moving as a group, reflecting a compact, coincident vintage.
Weather this year, more than most, marks the vintage. Hail zapped Ribbon Ridge vineyards, reducing cropload there to half; perfectly warm and completely dry growing and ripening seasons kept disease away and pushed full ripeness; and, the Fall rains have come to replenish soil moistures and remind us we aren’t too special!
Now, as we contend with outside red pressings and barreling down, we can watch winter fronts come in with a cup of coffee in hand and expectations that a day-off is tantalizingly close.
2012 Harvest to-date
(86% of forecast)
(71% of forecast)
(95% of forecast)
(98% of forecast)
(97% of forecast)
(111% of forecast)
(156% of forecast)
(94% of forecast)
Does not include 5.3 tons Chard custom crushed at Chehalem for another winery or 4.23 tons of Pinot Noir sold from RC to other wineries.