I can’t say we’re all done - in fact we’ve still got three lots in primary fermentation. But I can say that Harvest 2018 is at the bottom of the downward slope. I’ll try to give you a summary of what has been a very exciting vintage, without getting too geeky. You’ll have to forgive me though, I get really excited about this kind of thing.
Harvest started slightly later than last year for us, but it’s hard to know year over year as we sadly did not take fruit from Wirtz Vineyard this year, which was our first pick last year. It’s a bit of a long story, but suffice to say old vineyards with mostly white grapes and not very efficient spacing are a hard business case to make. Not for us necessarily - we would have loved to get that fruit, but the vineyard is up for sale and a bit in limbo. It’s a bit sad to come face-to-face with the economics of it versus the heritage, so I am hoping for good things for that amazing piece of land - we’ll try to keep tabs on what happens.
But we got in our first load of pinot noir on 9/30 for a miniscule batch of rosé. It continues to ferment even still, slow and cool. The flavors are great, the color is quite intense, but we are excited about it - although there won’t be nearly enough!!
A few days later we picked our pinot noir out of different blocks for our red wine. The fruit was nice and had great flavors. We fermented it in several batches so we could see how the different clones we purchased this year behave - namely 777 and 115. I won’t go into clonal differences here, but if you ever want to go down a fascinating rabbit hole Pinot clones and their introduction to Oregon is a great topic to explore. We did some whole cluster and are excited for the results. The acid this vintage was awesome, as well as the flavor development. It may have taken a bit longer for full ripeness than the last few years, but these grapes held on to the elements we wanted.
Next came the Grenache Blanc and wow was it reminiscent of last year - a bit riper in it’s sugar levels, which I think is a good thing. We treated it very similar to last year, although are completing the fermentation as an entire lot in a stainless steel tank so we can have a bit more temperature control and consistency. This lot too is still ticking through it’s sugar nearly two months later, but it has gone very smooth and is retaining all the aromatics we hope for. Soon enough we’ll get it racked into barrels and see how much further it needs for malolactic. We are in no rush with this delicate wine - want to make sure we let it bring out it’s beauty through it’s inherent subtlety.
And then we waited, and waited. The syrah was just taking it’s own time. In fact it was taking so long I started to worry a bit if it would get ripe this year, and I started to field calls about the lack of trucks coming up the valley this late in harvest to bring the fruit safely to the winery. I wasn’t sure what to expect. When we finally got things sorted and the fruit arrived I was thrilled. Small berries, intense savory aspects but beautiful blue fruit flavors, and great acidity. It looked amazing coming out of the field, and it has fermented like a dream. I am very excited about how the syrah is doing, and can’t wait to tuck it into barrel and let it start developing. In fact we press tomorrow, and get to clean the press for the last time. It’s fun to see the lone fermentation bin containing this syrah sitting in the cellar that had seen over 75 bins come through this year.
Overall this was a good year, but the thing across the board I am most excited about was the balance between ripeness in the sugars, flavors, skins, etc and the retention of acid. We use fruit throughout the state or Oregon and this held true for all of our lots. We have a long way to go before any of these wines will be available, but this harvest is almost in the bag, and I am a happy camper.