Of course, the favorite question to winemakers this time of year is “How is harvest?”

The quick and simple answer is “great!” With more detail, you will understand that as usual we have some variability based on different vineyard sites and the needs of different varieties for different conditions.

In general, Pinot noirs will be flashy and spectacular this year, with good heat for phenolic ripeness, cool final ripening conditions the last 3-4 weeks to retain acidity, and yields that, although not excessive with appropriate crop thinning, give great wines in good quantity. A vintage that I describe as pleasing to winemakers and accountants alike. Some early season heat in warmer sites contributed to a little botrytis and dessication, so we justify sorting conveyors and even a pass of vineyard sorting, made easy to take with lots of clusters hanging.

White wines, again plentiful this year, are fully ripe and flavorful, although like red wines it took patience and experience to let grapes hang to obtain that flavor profile we need to show maturity. With site differences, we brought in fruit bright and acid driven, but also rich and broad-palated fruit from warm or lower-yielding sites. Although Riesling is yet to be harvested, all other whites, like Chardonnay and Pinot Gris especially, show this to be an excellent year for estate blended white wines.

We always appreciate the differences vintage-to-vintage. There is a personality to each vintage, a pedigree made of weather and terroir that is both intellectually and hedonistically interesting. Like many permutations of music being possible from a set of musical notes, or many paintings being possible from a set pallette of colors, our vines look to be played differently each year, with fascinating results possible. Fine artistry has been possible from Harvest 2009.


Weather So Far and Today

The last week has seen winter previewed, both with cool temperatures and rain. There has been 0.67 inches of rain and a period where 5 of the last 10 days had lows in the 30s, as low as 33 degrees in McMinnville. Most of the rain has been brought in the last 3-4 days by an Hawai’ian express, with tropical moisture and lows now in the 50s.

The rain and temperatures are of little interest for harvest, however, since almost all fruit has come inside, only Riesling, which likes late October-early November harvesting and moisture for botrytis, and a single block each of Pinot noir and Chardonnay remaining for additional hangtime. This is out of 55 total blocks of fruit in the various vineyards.

Harvest to-date
358 tons
(87% of forecast)
Pinot Noir: 162 tons
(81% of forecast)
Pinot Gris: 67 tons
(92% of forecast)
Chardonnay: 112 tons
(106% of forecast)
Gruner veltliner: 4.3 tons
(111% of forecast)
Riesling: 2 tons
(10% of forecast)
Gamay noir: 3 tons
(111% of forecast)
Pinot blanc: 8 tons
(97% of forecast)