Today ends an intense 3 weeks of Harvesting, with white press action every day of that, with Pinot fermentors totally full for over a week, with yesterday’s fruit pick bringing our vintage total to 342 tons (exceeding already our biggest year, 2009), with long days and only one day off per week for interns, and with facility limits painfully evident.  Although unfinished, this harvest will be showing yields higher by 10-35%, depending on variety and vineyard.  We’ll summarize later.

What is evident in this full harvest is how integrated and hard working our crew is.  The permanent winemaking team has come together more tightly and finely-tuned than ever, with Wynne, Katie and Greg orchestrating fluidly and precisely what sometimes we used to call “organized chaos.”  And, of course, the wild card is always the group of harvest interns who dedicate two to three months of their lives to experiencing the brutally exciting dance we choreograph.

This year the team is robust, bright, high-spirited, and experienced, not to mention hard-working:

  • Duncan Gibson comes from the wonderful world down-under called New Zealand, with what seem to be Kiwi attributes of intense work ethic, humor, self-motivation, intelligence and a broad common-sense knowledge about many things. He is in the vogue of great interns (well over 30 in the last 18 years) some who became employees at Chehalem like Michael Davies, Mike Eyres, Chad Douglas.  Duncan graduated from Lincoln’s Vit and Oenology school in 2005 and has worked harvests 15 times both in NZ, Australia, Canada, CA, and Europe’s Germany, France, and Italy.  He has also worked extended periods in Central Otago, with friends at Chard Farm and Peregrine.  AND, he was raised on a farm—solid, very solid!
  • Anne-Sophie REVIRON is not the physical size of Duncan, Rohan, Rian and Dustin, but she has the intelligence, tenacity, energy, and skills to be a core of this hard-driving team.  She if focused on the laboratory, but escapes often on the forklift or to inoculate barrels in the evergrowing stacks of white.  She was schooled in Burgundy, both at the CFA Viticole in Beaune and at the University (IUVV) at Dijon, receiving her Masters there.  She worked 7 harvests at Maison Albert Bichot, including the year Wynne had a fellowship in Burgundy, with most of her time spent at Bichot, where they casually met.
    Her English is excellent, she quickly learned American humor (not an easy job) and now confidently drives to Portland or to the Coast on days off.
  • Rohan McGowan has had more bar tending adventures—from Auckland to Boston—than he has worked grape harvests, which is enough to sell me on him. But, in addition, he was a combat medical technician in the NZ Army Reserve (probably get to use his skills this harvest), he has a Masters in Vit and Enology from the University of Auckland, has worked in CA in a Bill Harlan project, and, being Kiwi to the core, afterward headed north to be near Pinot noir and cool climate whites. He has lived short-term in both Vancouver BC and Portland, where he met our rye-toting sales manager Thom Sichta—which explains the bar tending gravitational pull of Rohan. Great attitude, cerebral, and one of us.
  • Rian Strong harks from a 17-year background in the restaurant business, most recently as Sommelier at my favorite Atlanta restaurant, Canoe. Not satisfied with Floor Manager, Captain, Bar Tender (here we go again), and Sommelier, Rian took off time to get his bachelor’s degree in Viticulture/Enology from UC Davis. Wynne met Rian in her last year of her Masters program at Davis. He and his wife Megan and boys have moved back to the West Coast beginning with this harvest. We need to keep them around, especially with Megan’s talent in the kitchen, as we’ve experienced with several harvest lunches.
  • Dustin Andries is an Oregonian from Southern Oregon, who attended Oregon State, graduating with a Fermentation Sciences BS in 2011 and immediately taking off to apply skills everywhere back-and-forth twice a year, from giant Gallo in CA last year of school to tiny Winderlea in OR to Napier NZ back to CA for Ch Montelena and to Stellenbosch in South Africa and back to CA then to Tasmania and New South Wales in Australia. Whew, I’m a bit dizzy. Lots of experiences and no moss growing on him! With all that traveling, we hope it’s his dustiny to return to Oregon for good.

We couldn’t ask for a better crew– the wild cards mentioned above have turned out to be all Aces. We also couldn’t ask for better weather, but we could ask for it to soon be over, or at least slowing. No matter what, you’ll love the results.


Weather and Its Implications

Sun and highs in the low 70s to low 80s continue and are forecast to extend for at least another week.  Moderated as it is, we have been given a chance to let some blocks of Pinot noir and Riesling hang for added complexity and to await fermentor space. With only a little over an inch of rain in the last 5 weeks (1.9 inches in the end of June), working in the rain has not been a problem.  And, with the atypical weather cycle, migratory flocks of birds are chowing down somewhere else, not being seen at all (knock on wood).