Monday, October 1, 2007

Willamette Valley Harvest Update

The harvest in the Willamette Valley is a bit up in the air right now. As of Friday the 28th, we've been getting rain, and the kind of soaking rain that fills the grapes and dilutes the flavors. In some areas, the grapes ripened and matured enough to be harvested before the rain started, but in others, the grapes were not quite ready. At some vineyards we visited this weekend, about half of the grapes had been harvested. In Cristom's case, about 2/3 of their Pinot Gris had been harvested, and the rest is still on the vine.

The issue that is being presented will probably have to be decided upon in the next few days by vineyard managers and winemakers. The rain is expected to continue for about a week, and then there should be some dryer weather, there's just no certainty of how long this will last, if it comes at all. See, that's the thing about weather around here. Weather can reasonably be predicted about 3 days out. Anything more than that is a crap shoot. So the decision will need to be made weather to harvest the grapes now, in their rain-soaked and diluted form, or wait until dryer weather and hope the grapes dry out, and that the flavor and sugar levels can rise again. The problem with this, is that the grapes could be overcome by mold and over-ripeness, which could ruin the remaining crops.

Overall, I'd say that about 50% of the crop has been harvested, and we will just have to wait and see about the rest. We had a very cool summer, which means that the grapes have taken longer to ripen and mature. Normally, this is a very good thing, especially with Pinot Noir. If the rain would have held off for a week more, this harvest would have a ton of potential. With the weather looking like it is, we really wont know until late 2008, when the wines start to get released. Until then, I'll be looking forward to the 2006 vintage, which should be really good.

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